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Full text of "Debate on Mr. Fisher's resolutions against Caucuses in the House of Commons of North Carolina : in Dec. 1823"

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DEBATE 



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NORTH-CAROLINA 
In Dec. 182&. 



RALEIGH 3 
Printed by j. gales & son- — state printers. 

1824, 



CAUCTJS TOflftATE. 



House of Commons } Tuesday, Dec. 2, 1823. 

The following are the Preamble and Resolutions present- 
ed by Mr. Fisher,, some days previous to the Debate. 

The General Assembly of North-Carolina, cherish with zeal and veneration, the 
just principles on which the Constitution of the Union is established, and the pure spi- 
rit that animates the Federal System ; and we view with distrust and apprehension, 
every practice which may have a tendency to impair these principles, ov to violate 
this spirit. The history of all governments shews, that the institutions of the people 
are in less danger from open violence, than from secret and insidious encroachments. 
In the first instance, the people are apprized of the danger, and may guard against it ; 
in the other, the evil is fatal — coining under the mask of patriotism, suspicion is lulled, 
and its danger unperceived. 

Of the latter description, we consider the practice which heretofore has existed in 
the City of Washington, of holding Congressional Caucuses, for the nomination of 
Presidents of the United States — a practice directly opposed to the spirit of the Con- 
stitution, and fatally calculated to subvert the principles of our Government. 

The Constitution of the Nation is one of checks and of balances ; its framers knew 
the frailties of mankind, and to preserve pure the integrity of its agents, it contem- 
plates keeping separate and distinct from eacli other, the Legislative and Executive 
branches of the Government. Members of Congress are chosen by the people for 
eertain specific and defined purposes — to exercise the functions of legislation, and not 
to elect or to nominate Presidents, except in the event as provided by the Constitu- 
tion. In conformity to this caution of prudence and wisdom, the second article of the 
Constitution forbids members of either branch of Congress from acting as electors of 
President. Guarding against their own frailty, the people, by the Constitution, have 
taken from themselves the power to elect a Member of Congress, as an Elector ; yet 
by the practice of Caucusing, these Members of Congress indirectly do, what by the 
Constitution they are prohibited from doing directly. 

The election of President, under the Constitution, is removed one degree from the 
people, by the intervention of the Electoral College ; but. by the practice of Caucus 
nominations, it is, in effect, taken away from the people altogether, and exercised by 
a selfish combination of unauthorised individuals — usurping power, and leaving to the 
people the empty privilege of ratifying their decrees. 

The advocates of Caucus have in view, to cause some one, bv means of the nomi- 
nation, to be elected President, who otherwise might not be elected. If this object 
be not effected by it, then the Caucus was useless : if it be attained, then the conclu- 
sion is irresistible, that the Members of Congress make the President, and in spirit vio- 
late that sacred instrument, which they have sworn to support. 

We disapprove Congressional Caucuses for nominating- Presidents, not only on Con- 
stitutional grounds, but on considerations of just policy. By the Constitution, in the 
event of no election by the Electoral College, the House of Representatives is to 
choose from the three highest, and voting by States ; a provision deemed so import- 
ant as to have been repeated, though modified, by an amendment to the Constitution, 
solemnly ratified by this State in the year 1813. It is therefore, certainly improper, 
unwise, and highly censurable, for Members of Congress to go into Caucus, and pre*, 
judge the case, oy pledging themselves to support a certain Candidate, when in twelve 
months thereafter they may be called upon to votp as final Electors. When the elec- 
tion of President goes to the House ofRepifc'sentatLyes, the functions of that body, foi: 
the time being, are wholly changed : they lose the character of Legislators, and be- 



4 CAUCUS DEBATE. 

come clothed with the privilege of the people, as Electors. An Elector is an Agent 
chosen by the people, hot to exercise discretionary powers, but execute a qualified 
trust ; to do what the people themselves would do, were they present ; but Members- 
of Congress are elected without reference to their sentiments on the Presidential 
question ; in truth it may so happen, that while they prefer one person for President, 
the people prefer another ; and we appeal to our knowledge of the fact, that whatever 
consideration may have induced the election of the present Members of Congress from 
this State, their opinions on the Presidential question had no manner of influence. 
The cunsequence therefore is, that when they go into Caucus, they do not carry with 
them the feelings and wishes of the people ; they usurp a power denied by the Con- 
stitution and not given by the people ; they obtain by fraud what they dare not attempt 
by violence. 

It lias been advanced, in defence of the practice of Caucusing, that it is necessary to 
prevent the election from going into the House of Representatives. The Constitution 
prescribes, that Congress, voting by States, shall elect the President from the three 
highest on the polis, if no one have a majority of the whole. Does not the guilt of 
perjury rest on the man, who, taking an oath to support the Constitution, yet busies 
himself to pervert and defeat its provisions ? To this Legislature it would appear, that 
there is less danger of the House of Representatives being corrupted, than there is of 
the Caucus. In tiie one situation the Members act on their oaths and responsibilities ; 
in the other they are impelled by their own selfish views, and they are exposed to the 
operations of intrigue, management] and oftentimes corruption. 

Tiie Legislature further object to this practice, because, in our Government, we 
ought vigilantly to avoid giving sanction to improper precedents, so fatal in other Go- 
vernments. What at first is cautiously assumed, if unresisted, will, at last, be openly 
demanded as a right. Already do the fiiends of Caucus urge as argument, the prac- 
tice of former CongTesses ; and unless the people now resist their usurpations, the 
period is not distant when Members of Congress will claim them as a right, by the law 
of immemorial usage — the people will be deprived of influence in the choice of Presi- 
dent ; or, Members of Congress must be chosen, not for their qualifications as Legis- 
lators, but for their opinion as Electors. 

On former occasions, the plausible apology for Caucuses was, to unite the sentL 
rnents of the dominant party, to prevent it from being broken and shattered to pieces, 
lest their opponents might thereby supplant them in power. If this was ever a good 
apology, it certainly is not such at this time, since party rancour has subsided, the 
spirit of faction has disappeared, and most, if not all good men, unite in opinion upon 
questions of leading national policy. 

The rights, the liberties of the American people, were achieved by the blood of our 
fathers, and wrung from the iron grasp of tyranny. These patriots fondly hoped they 
had secured, by their wisdom, in the Federal Constitution, the enjoyment of these 
•rights. Against the treason of open violence, we should be degenerate indeed, if we 
did not rally around the standard of the Constitution, and with the sacrifice of life, shew 
that we greatly prize and can bravely defend the valuable inheritance. Shall we, 
then, when aware of our danger, permit a self-created aristocracy to deceive, delude, 
and rob us of our rights ? The Legislature of North-Carolina protest against this un- 
constitutional and dangerous usurpation of a Caucus nomination of President by Mem- 
bers of Congress at Washington. 

We believe an open, manly and candid effort should be made to check the unhal- 
lowed design in its progress, and if the effort be not successful, that the people may 
be awakened and alarmed at the danger which threatens their rights, and apply the 
correction , 

With these views, and for these reasons, the General Assembly of North-Carolina 

Resolve : First, That the Senators in Congress from this State, be instructed, and 
our Representatives be requested, as a means of preserving the rights of the people 
in choice of President, to withhold their countenance from the practice of meeting in 
Caucus, by the Members of Congress ; and that they use their exertions to prevent a 
nomination from being made in Caucus, of persons to fill the offices of President and 
Vice-President of the United States. 

Second, That our Senators in Congress be instructed, and our Representatives be re 
quested, to bring before Congress, and urge the passage of an amendment to the Con 



CAUCUS DEBATE. 5 

tutution, providing- that each State in the Union shall be laid off at stated periods, into 
Electoral districts, for the election of Presidents and Vice-Presidents of the United 
States. 

Taird, That the Governor of this State transmit a copy of the foregoing- Preamble 
and Resolutions to each of our Senators and Representatives in Congress. 

Fourth, That the Governor transmit a copy of the foregoing- Preamble and Resolu- 
lutions to the Executive of each State in the Union, with a request that they be laid 
before then- respective Legislatures. 

When this subject was called up, and the question stated from the Chair? 
Mr. Bynum moved that the Preamble and Resolutions be indefinitely post- 
poned. When Mr. Fisher rose and addressed the House as follows : 

Mr. Fisher said, to meet the wishes of some of his friends, he had 
consented, to a modification of the first resolution. That Resolution was 
drawn up in the usual form — mstructutv our Senators, and requesting 
our Representatives; but, there were some gentlemen, opposed to caucus- 
ing, who yet doubted the propriety of the Legislature, instructing our 
members of Congress. To meet their views, he was willing so to alter the 
resolution, as to bring the question of Caucus or not Caucus, fairly before 
the House. Of course, then, such gentlemen, as were opposed to the prac- 
tice of Caucusing at Congress, would vote for the resolutions ; while those 
in favour of this usurpation of the rights of the people, would vote against 
them. With these explanations, Mr. F. said, he would proceed to consi- 
der the subject. 

When our forefathers came out of the revolutionary war, they had but 
half accomplished the great objects for which they had gone into it; — they 
had fought, the battles of liberty, and broken the yoke of foreign tyranny; 
but, it yet remained for them to secure, in permanent institutions, the prin- 
ciples and rights for which they had so profusely shed their blood. This 
was not an ordinary work ; it required time, wisdom and patriotism to ac- 
complish it ; and we see, it was not until after seven years of trial, that 
our government was fixed on a firm basis, by the adoption of the Federal 
Constitution. This constitution has now been in existence, for 56 years ; 
it is the work of some of the wisest heads and purest hearts, that ever liv- 
ed ; and if it is not undermined by the insidious encroachments of that 
subtle spirit of aristocracy which is ever on the alert, to steal the power 
from the many, to give it to the few, it will not fail to secure to our poste- 
rity the blessings of Liberty, for ages to come. This constitution, we 
have sworn to support ; and, it well becomes us, to raise our voice against 
every practice which goes to violate its spirit, or its letter. Such, said, 
Mr. F. 1 consider to be, the practice of holding Caucuses by Members of 
Congress, for the nomination of Presidents of the United States. The se- 
cond article of the constitution expressly piuhibiis Members af Congress, 
from acting as Electors. What does this article mean ? Does, it intend 
merely to prohibit Merr.'.crs S^ Congress from bearing the name of an Elec- 
tor ; or does it not clearly intend to prohibit them from exercising the 
functions of an Elector i Wames are used lor the purpose of convening to 
the mind ideas of things ; and, it is not material what names you give, if 
the thing itself is the same : — It is the duties^ the fund wt.s oi' Electors, 
that the constitution forbids Members of Congress from exercising — no 
matter, whether erercised in the electoral college, or in a Caucus. If 



6 CAUCUS DEBATE. 

what Members of Congress do in Caucus, is virtually exercising the func- 
tions of Electors, it follows, of course, that they do the very thing which, 
by the constitution, they are permitted not to do. What is the object of a 
Congressional Caucus*? The friends of the measure, themselves, tell us, 
that the object, is to induce the people to vote for some one person as Pre- 
sident, who otherwise might not be voted for, and of consequence, other- 
wise would not be elected. Now, in this object, they will either fail, or 
they will succeed. If they fail, then the Caucus was useless, and should 
not have been held j but if they succeed, then does it not follow, that they 
have effectually succeeded in exercising the functions of Electors — in do- 
ing what the constitution prohibits them from doing ? — in making a Presi- 
dent for the people. This being their object, now, said Mr. F. I would 
ask if ever a Congressional Caucus has failed in its object ? It never has. 
In 181G, after much management, a Caucus was got up at Congress. — 
Out of all the Members of Congress, 119 only attended j the rest being 
opposed to it : of those who attended, 65 voted for Mr. Monroe, and 54 
for Mr. Crawford. Mr. Monroe having a majority of the Caucus in his fa- 
vor, he went forth as the nominated candidate, and accordingly was elect- 
ed. Now will any person contend, that Mr. Crawford would not, at this 
moment, have been President, if he had succeeded in the Caucus ? But 
as anxious as that gentleman and his friends were to make him President, 
they gave up all hopes, as soon as they failed in the Caucus. In fact, as 
soon as Mr. Monroe was nominated by the Caucus, his election was consi- 
dered secure, and all further opposition ceased ; and, when the people of 
North -Carolina were called upon to vote for the Electors, they considered 
it so much of a farce, that not more than one vote in ten was given in ; 
they felt that it was unnecessary to spend their time in going to the poles 
to vote, when the Caucus had already decided the election. Is it not 
plain, then, that Members of Congress, by means of these t aucuses, do in- 
directly, what by the constitution they are inhibited from doing directly ? 
It is certain then, that the Constitution of the United States, prohibits 
Members of Congress from acting as Electors ; and it is equally clear that 
the intention of that instrument is to exclude them from any agency what- 
ever, in electing the President, except in the event of no election by the 
people. Now let us enquire what are the reasons of this prohibition ? 
Madison, Jay and HamiHon, in a work that will remain a standard as long 
as the constitution lasts, informs us, that the reason of this inhibition was, 
to guard against -'cabal, intrigue and corruption." The framers of the 
constitution were wise men ; they knew the depravity of the human heart ; 
they had seen in the history of our governments to what lengths ambition 
woidd lead men °, that many had waded through corruption and blood, to 
reach their object. They knew that the f resiliency, of this great repub- 
lic was a prize at which men of the greatest talents, and most inordinate 
ambition might aim ; and it was to be feared, that some of these would stop 
at nothing to gain it. To guard against such men, on such occasions, it 
was thought wiser and safer to conhde the election to the people, than to 
intrust it to a ftve-e wisiing body of men. The people, at the same time, 
throughout the union, vote for Electors — these Electors, are thus created, 
as it were, in one day ; and, before they could possibly be corrupted, they 
&ave convened, executed their trust, and dispersed again : So that there, is 



CAUCUS DEBATE. / 

no possible chance of corrupting them. But is 'this the case with Mem- 
bers of Congress ? They are elected nearly two years before hand : and. 
for a considerable part of that time, are on the spot at Washington, where 
the intrigue and management is going on : they are a tangible, pre-estab- 
lished body, and are subject to be operated on by the arts and management 
of the candidates, who are also, generally on the spot. 

Members of t ongress, like members of this Legislature, are not always 
elected for their virtues and talents ; a combination of circumstances, with- 
out regard to these qualifications, sometimes place them in Congress. When 
there, they are not less fallible, than before elected ; nay, if any difference, 
they are more so, for the very atmosphere of Washington city seems to cre- 
ate a hungering after "the loaves and fishes." There are in every Con- 
gress, a greater or less number of the members seeking after preferment* 
either for themselves or for their relations or friends. It is known, that at 
the session of 1820, not less than one-third of all the members were appli- 
cants to the cabinet for the offices created by the Florida Treaty. Is it not 
reasonable, then, to suppose, that the man who will have the offices at his 
disposal, can, by holding out hopes, operate on those who are so anxious to 
obtain preferment ? To show that it is, let us look to past experience, and 
consult the opinions of those more conversant than we are with the way in 
which things are managed at Washington. — Mr. Taylor, a distinguished ci- 
tizen of Virginia, an uniform republican, and one not unacquainted with, 
the history of Caucusing, in a speech delivered last summer, says of Voti- 
gressioual Caucuses — "The mode of electing the President and Vice-Presi- 
dent of the United States, calls out loudly for amendment. The present 
method is the result of intrigue. — sanctioned too, by the must of the viexn-. 
bers of Congress; a most palpable Jraud upon the rights of suffrage. 
The power of correcting this evil is vested in the people, if they will exer- 
cise it. Let th?m discharge thus<> members wh > upirdd a Presidential 
Caucus, and substitute those in their places who will use their utmost efforts 
to procure such amendments of the Federal Constitution as will produce one 
uniform mode of elections, by districts, in each State throughout the union, 
Then, and not till then, will the government be administered by a Presi- 
dent and Vice-President of their own choice." — One of the reasons why I 
quote the opinion of this gentleman, is, because he is of "Virginia, and there 
are some in this House, who will esteem them the more on that account. 

It will be remembered, that in 1816, Mr. Monroe and Mr. Crawford were 
candidates for the Presidency- The Revolutionary services of Mr. Monroe, 
his important services during the last war, and his great experience in public 
affairs, had pointed him out to the American people, as the successor of 
Mr. Madison. As to Mr. Craw ford, he had no such claims to the office ; ne- 
vertheless, he was pushed forward as a candidate, and by management came 
ne. t r being nominated, by the Caucus. • o give an idea how V embers of 
Congress maybe influenced on those occasions, I will read, said Mr. F. a few 
extracts from the Editors of the National Intelligencer, made at the time. 
These Editors are very intelligent gentlemen, they were eye-witnesses of the 
intrigues and management that were carried on for the purpose of making 
Mr. Crawford, President. These gentlemen tell us, " (hat when Congress 
firs* , i!r t, „. oth r a dilate was publ'dy su fc< n of bit* J.tnies MonraeJ* 
They add s " We consult our own inclination., and probably the interest of 



■S CAUCUS DEBATE. 

the great Republican family, by avoiding an examination into the circum- 
stances, a Combination which had nearly -produced a nomination indi- 
rect opposition to the public will. Again, " It is a fact, undisputed we 
believe, that the activity and pre concert of the opponents of. Mr. Monroe, 
and a fastidious delicacy of his best friends, which prevented active exer- 
tions in support of his nomination, together, produced a state of things As- 
tonishing to most of the people of the United States, who expected noth- 
ing less than that division of sentiment which prevailed among their Re- 
presentatives." Again; — " On their part, (the part of Mr. Crawford's 
friends) no exertions were spared* «#s no labor was too great. sr> no means 
were too humble to aid their object." "If one half the exertions had been 
made by Mr. Monroe's friends, that were made by his opponents, the no- 
mination would have been as unanimous, as it certainly would have been 
when Congress first assembled — when no other candidate w.:s publicly 
spoken of but James Jlonroe.. This 'S a fact, which we. ought not to o- 
veriook. These gentlemen, further give it as their opinion, that to refer 
the election to the people, " would greatly narrow the scope for in- 
trigue and venality. If would moreover, prevent the possibility of the 
popular wilL being defected by a cabal, wh'xh >s now possible, to say the 
least of it, 8fc. " This is the testimony of those who were on the spot, and 
were attentive to the passing scenes, preparatory to the Caucus of 1816. 
I shall, said Vlr. ¥. read one more extract. Mr. Niles, one whose Repub- 
licanism, honestv and truth, have never been doubted, in speaking of the 
Caucus, that is to determine the approaching Presidential election, says, 
"I have had a pretty near view of some of the supposed hidden things that 
are going on, and do verily believe, just as surely as that I shall die and ac- 
count for my acts, that quasi bargains haee. been made t as for the sale of 
Voles, and that these bargains will be brou lit nto a caucus if composed 
of the members of 'he present Congress." This then, is the nature of a 
Caucus, that is to deprive the people of their just privileges in chusing a 
Chief VJagistrate. But these are not the only Republicans who have disap- 
proved the practice of Caucusing. In every ongress that have held a au- 
cus. there were many Republicans who condemned it. I take pleasure, 
said Mr. F. to mention among these, the name of our elder Senator, Mr* 
Macon ; he never attends Caucuses. In the Caucus of 1812, only 17 out 
of the S6 Senators attended ; and only 65 out of the whole number of Re- 
presentatives attended ; so that only a minority of two-fifths were present 
in that Caucus. With this view of Caucusing, can the people continue to 
tolerate a practice which is not only a violation of the Constitution, but an 
usurpation of their just rights and privileges ? 

But even admitting that aucusing by Members of Congress, is not a vi* 
Nation of the i onstitution, or does not usurp the rights of the people, yet 
it\ improper on another ground. By the onstitution, in the event the 
people make no election, then the choice is to be made by the House of Re- 
presentatives, voting by States. It is certainly highly improper then, for 
the members to prejudge the case by going into Caucus, and solemnly bind- 
ing themselves to support this or that candidate. They go into Caucus and 
vote for a President; they return home, and at the election for Electors,* 
tote k second time for their man ; they go back to Congress, and in the 
House of Representatives vote a third time j so that they have three chances 
while the people have but one. 



« 

CAUCUS DEBATE, 9 

Mr. F. further observed, that he could readily anticipate manv of the 
arguments that won! 1 be brought forward in the defence of Congressional 
Caucuses. One of them would be, that they were necessary to prevent the 
election from going into the House of Representatives ; for if it goes into 
the House, the choice will be made by States — each State giving but one 
vote. At first appearance, this is a plausible argument, but it will not bear 
examination. The Federal Constitution, it must, be kept in view, is a work 
of c wproviifif. When the members from the different States met in con- 
vention to form a Constitution, they soon found, that it was a work of im- 
mense difficulty. So conflicting were the feelings,- interests and views of 
the several states, we are told, that at one time, they were on the poinr. 
of breaking up and returning home, without having come to any conclusions; 
but inspired by the spirit of patriotism, they renewed their labors. Each 
section of the country gave up some of its views in order to gain other ; 
and thus by mutual compromise, they formed the Federal Constitution, 
which never would have been formed on any other principles. Mr. F. said 
he would very briefly notice three of the principles of compromise adopted 
in the Constitution. The first was, tha. the small States should be pro- 
tected from the overwhelming influence of the great ones, by being admit- 
ted to an equal weight in the Senate. Without a concession of this kind 
in their favor, the small states would never have gone into the union. The 
next compromise was in favor of the Southern States — the partial re- 
presentation of our slave population, by which we gain one-third of our 
weight in the House of Representatives. The Southern Statesnever would 
have adopted the Constitution without some provision of this nature. The 
third principle of compromise, is intended further to operate in favor of the 
small States;-itis, when the nation fails to elect the President, that then thee- 
lection shall be made by the States-each giving one vote. Air. Madison, in his 
remarks in the Virginia Convention, speaks of this part of the Constitution 
as an important compromise, designed to conciliate the small states. This, 
then, is a compromiisK and the avowed object of a ( aucus is to defeat this 
provision of the Constitution. Heretofore, Caucuses were against party — 
now they are against the ( oustitution. What would we say, if the Mem- 
bers from the non -slave holding States were to go into aucus to defeat that 
part of the Constitution, which allows three-fifths of our slaves to be repre- 
sented, and thus to deprive us of one-third of our weight in the General 
Government? Would we quietly permit them to do so ? No — we would 
cry treason! and march either to defend the Constitution or to dissolve die 
Union. Now, cannot the small States with equal justness, cry out against 
a Caucus, that scheme to destroy the provisions of the Constitution intend- 
ed to operate in their favor ? Surely they can ! We should not forget the 
golden rule of doing to others, as we wish others to do unto us. — 
Gae part of the Constitution is a- sacred as the rest ; if any part is more 
so than others, it certainly ought to be those parts formed on the principles 
of con cession and compromise: — these it were that brought the States together, 
and a violation of these, more apt than any other, may dissolve the Union, 
Tohold a Caucus, then, by Members of Congress, for the purpose of defeating 
the express provisions of the Constitution, is certainly doing what they have, 
solemnly sworn not to do — it is violating the Constitution, is cheating the 
smaller states out of their just powers, and the people out of their rights. 



10 CAUCUS DEBATE. 

It will be objected to the election goin); into the House of Representa- 
tives, that a majority of the States, containing a minority of the people, 
will be able to elect the President. In reply to this it may be said, that it 
is not likely that such a combination will ever take place between the small 
states ; but even if it does, no danger can follow, when it is considered,, 
that the election must be made from one of the three highest of the Candid- 
ates voted for by the people. 

When the People elect Members of Congress, it is with a view to Le- 
gislation ; when they choose Electors, it. is with an eye to the President: — - 
hence the people, in the Electoral College are represented ; but in the 
Caucus they are not. But suppose the Members do carry into the Cau- 
cus, the wishes and feelings of their constituents. The first thing they 
do is solemnly to bind themselves to support the man who receives the 
most votes, though he may be the one of all others most obnoxious to the 
people. Again, we will be told, that we ought now to sanction a Caucus, 
because Caucuses have heretofore been held. The force of this argument 
is, because Members of Congress have heretofore done wrong, we must 
justify them in repeating the wrong — thus, precedent is becoming law: — 
but, it is to be hoped, the people of the United States, will put a stop to 
it, before it becomes as irrevocable as the laws of the Medes and Persians. 
Mr. F. said he rejoiced to see that the people were already taking the 
alarm ; that they began to see the dangerous tendencies of the practice of 
Caucusing, and that they were raising their voices in everv part of the 
nation against it. Our sister State Tennessee, had already denounced it, 
and we may expect to see it put down in every quarter of the nation. In 
North-Carolina, Caucuses have ever been unpopular j they will become 
more so. The vote that we are about to give on these resolutions, will 
not be concealed from the public — it will go forth, and the people will see 
who are their friends, and who are for giving up their rights. 

Mr. T.. W. Blackledge rose and said, Mr. Speaker, I cannot refrain on 
this occasion, from again expressing my deep regret, that this House should 
be called -on to act upon-this subject at all. Believing the resolutions as 
intended to Have a direct bearing on the Presidential election, the subject 
becomes to me one of deep, earnest and solemn interest ; believing also, 
that this is a subject which certainly does not come before us in our Le- 
gislative capacity, and that we are travelling beyond our constitutional li- 
mits, in dictating to our Representatives m Congress, I regret that our 
feelings should be excited, aud the harmony of the House interrupted by 
the unnecessary discussion of a subject, at once so critical and delicate. 
It is to me, a matter not only of regret, but of surprise also, that the gen- 
tlemen who have lauded, with such sanctimoneous gravity, the cera of 
goad feelings — who profess themselves b dicvers in a political millenium, 
and assert that it has now arrived, should so recklessly and carelessly ha- 
zard the existence of the one and the continuance of the other. These 
gentlemen must know,, that they have deliberately thrown into this House 
a lighted firebrand ; a brand which will kindle into a blaze, the now dor- 
mant, but unextinguished embers of political faction; and rous \ i to ac- 
tion, with increased malevolence and energy, all the angry passions which 
emanate from party discord. I repeat, sir, that they have deliberately 



CAUCUS DEBATE. 11 

been the means of rousing these disagreeable feelings — for though the pre- 
amble and resolutions i e worded with much speciousness and caution, and say 
nothing concerning the candidates for the Presidency, it must be evident* 
that whatever they profess, they certainly were intended to subserve the 
inter st of one or more of the candidates for that office, and to prejudice 
the standing of another — of the one whom I believe to be the most worthy, 
and who is certainly the most popular candidate, among our constituents. 
J beg, sir, to be understood as imputing to the friends of these resolutions 
no unworthy motives : far from it. If they have a favorite, they certainly 
have a right to use their own ways and means to forward his views, and 
neither I, nor those with whom I agree, have a right or a wish to be of 
their counsel. But I am anxious that the subject of debate should be un- 
derstood, not only as regards its outward and visible form, but as to the. 
real operation which it is intended to have. And I think I am borne out 
in my opinion, as to their real intent, by the crisis at which they are intro- 
duced, the well known sentiments of the . entleman who brought them before 
us, and of other gentlemen arrayed in their defence, and lastly, by the no- 
toriously preponderating opularity of the favorite candidate of this state, 
in the House of Representatives — in that body, whose simplicity we are 
invited to instruct, and of whose honor we are requested to constitute our- 
selves the guardians. 

The gentleman from Rowan, sir, has complained that the course pur- 
sued by the gentleman from Halifax, in moving the indefinite postpone- 
ment of the whole subject, is not liberal or • parliamentary — because he is 
by that motion, precluded from offering an amendment to, or a substitute 
for the original preamble and resolutions — Surely, Mr. Speaker, the gen- 
tlemau cannot pretend he has been taken by surprise. These resolutions 
were not drawn in the perplexity and hurry of business, or in the confu- 
sion of debate. They have been expected to make their appearance in 
this House, almost ever since we have met. The awful note of prepara- 
tion had been for a long time sounded ere their appearance — and they now 
bear evident marks of labor and foresight in their production. But the 
gentleman from Rowan has discovered, that there are some federal gentle- 
men in this House, who though they are willing to join in his opposition 
to Mr. Crawford, yet cannot swallow the whole of the doctrine contained 
in his preamble and resolutions — who are against caucusing, but equally 
against our usurping a right of surveillance over our Members of Congress, 
and whose well known consistency will not permit them to sacrifice a 
principle, to further a particular purpose, by voting for the resolutions in 
their present shape. This is no more than I expected from their well 
known independence ; but the gentleman from Rowan, I presume, was 
deceived in his expectations, and now wishes to rectify the error and ren- 
der them more palatable to those gentlemen, in order that, by uniting that 
party with a fragment of soi di ant republicans, he may array a force suf- 
ficient to countervail the strength of the republican party. 1 do not feel 
myself bound to indulge the gentleman in any more of his political expe- 
riments — he has thrown the die, and must abide the result of chance — he 
has steered his own course, and if in attempting to avoid Scylla, he has 
dashed himself on Charybdis, his shipwreck must atone for his miscalcu- 
lating pilotage. 



12 CAUCUS DEBATE. 

The remarks of the gentleman from Rowan, have been so multifarious 
and discursive, that I am sure my memory will not enable me to animad- 
vert on them all — nor on any of them with the same lucidness and order 
w>th which they have been laid before us bv him. I shall take the liberty 
of calling the attention of the House, to some few of them, in the order in 
which they are marshalled in my recollection. Before, however, I pro- 
ceed to this, I would ask leave to examine what I deem a previous ques- 
tion of some importance — whether we are not stepping beyond our consti- 
tutional limits, in instructing or advising our Representatives in Congress? 
As to the abstract rig't of passing the resolutions on the table, it is not ne- 
cessary to waste time in reasoning on it — we have the right to pass reso- 
lutions advising and instructing the House of Lords aud Commons of 
Great-Britain or the Peers of France, or the Privy Council of the Czar. — 
But as these bodies are not particularly responsible to us for ther good 
behavior, I apprehend we should expose ourselves to their derision were 
we to venture on an interference in their concerns. The case is nearly 
or quite parallel as between ourselves and the Members of Congress. I 
conceive, sir, that there can be no right or expediency in tendering advice 
or instruction, where there is no responsibility between the party instruct- 
ing and the party to which instructions are given. The right or expedi- 
ency is co-extensive with this responsibility, and correspondent to, and in 
exact proportion with the degree thereof, on the behalf of the party in- 
strutted. Now, sir, the Members of the House of Representatives are 
elected by tlie people, and are responsible to the people, and to them on- 
ly — and so far as we compose a small unit in the vast sum of the people, 
so far and no farther can we expect our advice or instruction to have 
weight with our Members of Congress. For, sir, I apprehend they owe 
to us no allegiance as Members of the Legislature ; nor in any other capa- 
city but as individuals of the community ; as a Legislature, we have noin- 
n'nence in their election — there is, therefore', no responsibility on their 
part, nor consequently any right of instruction on ours — As individuals and 
part of the people, we have a right to instruct our Representatives : be- 
cause the people have that right. But would it not be nugatory — nay 
worse than nugatory for us to interfere as a Legislature ? Would it not be 
exposing the Legislature to contempt, to do an act to which no respect 
can be paid as an act of Legislation ? These observations apply, with near- 
ly eoual force, to our Senators as to our Representatives. Though we 
are the immediate organs in electing them, yet we are elected by the peo- 
ple, and are responsible to them for the correctness of our selection. Our 
political existence expires almost with the act of election, and in the na- 
ture of things can never be integrally resuscitated. They, the Senators, 
are re-eligible by another Legislature to be chosen six years afterwards, 
by the people, from their own body ; aud t .^ are therefore, responsible to 
them, though in a more remote degree, both on that account and on ac- 
count of the infrequency of their election, than the Representatives ; and 
I apprehend there is no more propriety in our instructing our Senators in 
their duty, than there would be should the Electors of the President, ad- 
vise him as to the course of policy which he should pursue in the admin- 
vvtration of the General Government. The mode of their election is 
nearly similar, and the responsibility of the President to the college of 



CAUCUS DEBATE. 13 

Electors is more direct and immediate than is That of the Senators to the 
Legislature, because the term of re-election is shorter : Yet I am equally 
certain that an interference like this on the behalf of the Electors, would 
be deemed an act little short of insanity. With this view of the. 
subject, I beg the House to be cautious in passing resolutions, which, to 
say the least of them, are mere nullities — to forbear giving advice to which 
we cannot compel them to listen ; or instructions which we cannot coerce 
them to adopt. I fear, sir. we should only expose ourselves to the con- 
tempt which always attends arrogant impudence of pretension, when ac- 
companied by total imbecility or absolute impotence of execution. Fur- 
ther, sir, if we have a right to instruct our Representatives on this subject, 
we have the same on any other, or all other subjects — it is impossible to 
draw a line of distinction. And if we believe that our present Members 
of Congress, from want of understanding 01 nonesty, have betrayed the 
interest of their countrv, or are about to betray it, and that it is our duty 
to set them aright : the same motives should induce us to watch over their 
every act — every vote ; and kindly to point out the policy they should 
pursue. It is equally our duty to continue in session, as long as Congress, 
for fear that from the want of our aid. and instruction, the country might 
be injured by their counsels. This is one of the absurd consequences, 
flowing from the doe trie — it, in feet, makes Congress nothing more than 
a body met together from all parts of the United States, to record the 
edicts of the State Legislatures. 

This important previous question of the ri ht to instruct, has, it seems, 
not arrested the attention of the gentleman from Rowan. Passing it silent- 
ly by, he arranges his objections against a Caucus, under two heads. He 
says the system is — 1st, unconstitutional, 2d, inexpedient at this time- 
Let us examine the gentleman's objections in due order. 

1st, as toits unconstitutionality — Thegent'eman recites tous clause from 
the Constitution of the United States which prohibits members of Congress, 
among others, from being electors for President and Vice President of the 
U. States: and avers, that when they meet in a Caucus and recommend 
any particular candidate to the people, they thereby virtually become elec- 
tors, and violate the Constitution. An elector, Mr. Speaker, is a creature 
of the Constitution, and existing by it. and described and denned distinctly 
as to his powers therein. He is a person, chosen either by the people or the 
Legislature, to meet at a certain time and place, and give a vote for Presi- 
dent and Vice-President. This, Sir, is, I believe, a full and distinct defi- 
nition of an Elector. Will the gentleman from Rowan point out to me, to 
which part of this definition a member of Congress answers, when he ex- 
presses his opinions to his fellow-citizens as to the merits of any one candid- 
ate for the Presidency ? Even his ingenuity must be at fault to this ques- 
tion ; his sophistry does not deceive himself. Before 1 proceed any farther 
in the examination of this part of the subject, I will take the liberty of 
explaining my ideas of the interpretation of the Constitution as applica- 
ble to the subject. I believe, Sir, that a citizen retains in every office 
in Society which he may be called on to fill, each and every privilege to 
which other citizens are entitled,, except where they are expressly taken a- 
way by some clause of the Constitu tion. This plain and simple proposition, 
is so consonant to our most ordinary ideas of civil liberty, that I apprehend 



14 CAUCUS DEBATE. 

none will be found hardy enough to deny or contradict it. Our general li- 
berty and privileges, are. in some few particular instances, abridged by con- 
stitutional prohibition — as in those instances where the exercise of a particu- 
lar privilege or liberty is deemed incompatible with the holding any particular 
office. Thus a member of Congress may not exercise or hold any office of trust 
or pr,.fit under the General Government, nor be an elector of President and 
Vice President of the United States. But these exceptions are never con- 
strued beyond the strict letter of the enactment — we have confined them 
to their strict, literal meaning. I understand, that that instrument has, 
among the Republicans, always received a rigid, scrupulous, and narrow 
.construction. — They have never permitted the General Government to 
assume any powers but what were plainly and clearly given — nothing by 
construction — nothing by implication. The case was different formerly 
At the eventful crisis of 1798 — 1799, the Constitution was a mere nose of 
wax ; it was construed to mean any thing or nothing, precisely as it agreed 
with or contravened the views of their then dominant party. But those times 
have gone by, and we are no longer in the habit of construing expediency 
and necessity to be synonymous terms. Now, Sir, I call upon the gentle- 
man from Rowan to point out the clause in the Constitution which prohib- 
its our members of Congress from forming an opinion on any political sub- 
ject : or of expressing that opinion when formed ? — to point out the clause 
which makes a difference of criminality between expressing an opinion at 
Washington city, and expressing the same at home : or between expressing 
an opinion singly, and doing the same in c<«npany with others. The gen- 
tleman from Rowan will not deny, that our Representatives may do the 
former acts, that is, form- and express an opinion as to men and measures 
whilst at home and acting in their private capacity. Let him then point 
out the discrimination between the one and the other — let him shew the 
point where innocence terminates, and guilt commences. Let him dem- 
onstrate, why that which an individual may do honestly and constitution- 
ally, may not be done with equal honesty and equal regard to the Consti- 
tution, by numbers. In fine, Sir, let the gentleman from Rowan, and I 
seriously ask him to do it, give us some tangible definition of a Caucus, 
that we may fairly understand what we are so urgently pressed to pronounce 
^constitutional and inexpedient. Until he shall have answered these 
questions, or give these explanations, I can only give to the gentleman's 
arguments the weight due to earnest and frothy declamation. 

But, sir, we are told by the gentleman, that it is wrong that our Repre- 
sentatives should express an opinion on, or interfere in this matter, because 
if they did, there would be great danger of their being corrupted, or bribed, 
by the candidates for the Presidency — and that this is evinced by the fact, 
that they are excluded by the Constitution from being electors ; whence it 
appears that the venerable framers of that instrument, entertained a deep 
jealousy of their, political purity in this matter. It seems to me, sir, to be 
strange, that the^Vamers of our constitution should be so exceedingly jea- 
lous of the purity of our members of Congress as to inhibit them from ex- 
pressing an opinion on the subject, or recommending a candidate to their 
constituents — and at the same time should lodge in them, in the dernier 
resort, the selection of the President. In the first event, viz. an election 
by the people of Electors, the number of candidates will generally be so 



CAUCUS DEBATE 15 

great — and the prospect of the election of either of them so remote and 
contingent, that their means of corruption are greatly inferior to what thej 
are, in the latter event, an election by Congress. The promise of an of- 
fice by any one of the candidates, previous to the decision of the electoral 
college, would be too uncertain, to have any influence ; when, from the 
number of the candidates, it was very probable, that that body would fail 
in making a constitutional selection. Surely, sir, if any thing is to be 
dreaded on this score, the peril is much more imminent, when the election 
becomes vested in the House of Representatives. Then there can be on- 
ly three candidates ; there will generally be only two who are prominent. 
Then, the whole executive patronage will be concentrated in the hands of 
those two : and can and will be wielded with a much more powerful and 
dangerous effect against the purity of Congress. Yet, sir, the framers of 
the constitution, have even, in this event, placed in their hands the im- 
portant and momentous privilege of a final election. This argument, sir, 
returns upon its author : the probable effect of a Caucus nomination will 
be an election by the people, and a prevention of the question's reaching the 
House of Representatives — If there is danger of bribery and corruption at 
all, there is less in a Caucus than in the House of Representatives — be- 
cause the means of corruption are then not in possession, but contingent. 
Again, a Caucus, even if corrupt, only recommends, and the people can 
ratify or reject their choice — there is nothing binding or obligatory in the 
recommendation which they make. But in the House of Representatives, 
as the probability of corruption is stronger, so is their election final, con- 
clusive and obligatory. 

, One other argument against a caucus nomination is, that by a recommen- 
dation through that channel, the people are robbed of their rights ; tnat 
the right of election is in effect taken from the people, and they are de- 
clared to be unable and incompetent to make a choice. This seems to be 
a favorite argument with the friends of the resolutions. It has called into 
exercise their most skilful logic, and their most vehement declamation. 
I do not believe, sir, that the gentlemen expect to effectuate much on this 
floor, by their eloquence on this point. No, sir ; it is an argument ad 
captandum vulgus ; it is intended for the ear of the gentlemens' constitu- 
ents at the contest for the Presidency which must shortly ensue. The 
gentlemen are welcome to all the merit and all the aid which they can de- 
rive from it, both here and at home. Let us enquire whether it will stand 
the test of examination. I lay it down, sir, as an axiom, which even the 
Jesuitical gentleman from Rowan will not deny, that if the people are rob- 
bed of any right, they no longer possess that right. If the right of voting. 
for a President, is taken from the people, by the recommendat.un of a cau- 
cus, then the people no longer possess that right. Now, sir, suppose that 
a Congressional Caucus should nominate for the Presidency, Mr. Crawford 
or Mr. Adams, will not the gentleman from Rowan still possess the right 
to vote for Mr. Calhoun ? Will he not possess it in as full and plenary a 
manner, as if no nomination had ever been made f Will he not exercise 
that right, sir. I think the gentleman will not negative either of these 
questions. Arid, sir, if he possesses the right, and will exercise it, how* 
does he, or can he differ from any other individual, nay from the humblest 
individual in the community, as' to the possession of any right common to* 



16 CAUCUS DEBATE. 

the freemen of the land ? If the gentleman from Rowan posessses the right 
which he cannot deny, then every other individual possesses it — the peo- 
ple possess the right (even though a Caucus does make a recommenda- 
tion) to vote for any other person as President. But we are told, that 
the members of a caucus, in effect, declare that the people are incompe- 
tent to make a choice, because they make a recommendation of a particular 
individual. The gentleman from Rowao, Mr. Speaker, will recollect that 
he, and several other of the most respectable i; divicluals in the western part 
of the State, lately met in caucus, in this city, not merely torecommend a 
President, but to destroy the present Constitution, and recommend to the 
people the adoption of a new one. — T :, ey did draw up a new one ; they 
did recommend its adoption to the people. 

Now, sir, when that gentleman, who was one of the most active and 
influential Members, of this constitution Caucus, and who was mainly 
influential in getting it up ; when he recommended to the people, the adop- 
tion of the New Constitution, did he thereby declare them incompetent 
to choose for themselves ? or by recommending them to vote for a par- 
ticular set of resolutions, or a particular constitution, did he thereby de- 
prive the people of their right of voting for any thing, save the thing re- 
commended ? He would suppose this a harsh interpretation of his labors on 
that occasions he might safely caU it a foolish ami a ridiculous one. — 
Yet, sir, I cannot well imagine two cases more precisely similar. Both 
meetings are Caucuses, both meetings recommend a certain course of con- 
duct to the people, both are voluntary avd self-existent, and neither of 
them have any power or authority, save what is afterwards given to them 
by the voluntary act of the people. It is not unfrecpuently the case, Mr. 
Speaker, that among the unthinking, a good cause sustains injury by being 
christened with an evil or a ridiculous name, and an evil cause derives 
support from the contrary fact. I think the friends of the resolutions^ are 
attempting to play off that policy on the present occasion. The very 
gentleman whopaints in such odious colours the features of a Presidential 
Caucus, you find the most active and influential in the Caucus whose ob- 
ject is to destroy the very constitution of the country — those who declaim 
the loudest against Congressional Caucuses, are delighted with the pro- 
ceedings of County Assemblies and town meetings ; and yet, sir, I believe 
it would puzzle any of those gentlemen to point out a sensible difference 
between the several assemblages. Let us examine if there be any difference, 
let us inquire what a Caucus is, and whether there is any thing so very 

odious in the term. It is not, sir, I believe, a primitive english word, 
whence it was derived, or when or where, or how it was adopted into the 
language, I am unable to say. A Caucus may be defined to be a meeting of 
individuals assembled in their private capacities as citiizens, for the pur- 
pose of carrying into effect some particular object — From some cause 
or other, not necessary or material to be known, it has generall v, though 
not necessarily, been applied to meetings of a political nature. I believe 
this is a fair definition of the meaning of the word ; and I can see 
no difference between a Congressional Caucus to recommend a President, 

and a Convention Caucus to modify the constitution — or a County Assem- 
bly or town meeting to recommend similar measures ; in point of princi- 
ple, Members of Congress attend the one, in their private capacities : the 



CAUCUS DEBATE. 1*7 

others are attended by the citizens, and also by your Justices of the Peace. 
Captains, Colonels, and Generals of Militia, Merchants, Doctors, Law- 
yers and Constables in their private capacities, and each express their 
opinion on the subject. I see nothing improper in this, sir; to be sure we 
we did not appoint the Justice or the Constable or the General or Con- 
gressmen for the express purpose of recommending a President to our 
choice; but it is equally certain that we did not intend, nor was it the in- 
tention of the constitution, to deprive them of the right of expressing 
their opinion on the subject, or of recommending iheir adoption to their 
fellow citizens. The people may ratify or reject the recommendation, at 
their own option. 

Believing, sir, as I do^ that they all stand as to constitutionality on e- 
cjual ground, I have no hesitancy in saying, that a recommendation bv a 
Congressional Caucus is entitled to more weight than a recommendation 
by either or any of the afore-mentioned methods. The one is made by a 
body of men, selected from the mass of the people themselves, to re- 
present their greatest and highest interests — either for their services, or 
virtues, or talents. They are responsible to us for any opinion they may 
give on any political subject, or as to any political measure. How is the 
other made .? By whom ? Where is the responsibility ? Where is the 
ground-work of confidence ? We know, sir, that these ward or town 
meetings, in many places, are reduced to a perfect system of faction and 
intrigue. They are generally set in motion by some busy, bustling in- 
triguer. He advertises a town meeting, to take into consideration the Pre- 
sidency, or the state of the nation, or some other matter. The meeting is 
attended by the idle, or the curious, or the factious, with a large intermix- 
ture, in most cases, of the very lowest of the people. The mover of the 
meeting has a set of resolutions ready prepared ; they are introduced, and. 
no matter what principles they inculcate, or what characters they degrade 
or exalt, all opposition is hooted down. This act of a ward meeting or 
town meeting, as it is called, forced into existence nine times out. of ten, 
by some broken office hunter, or led captain, or lick-spittle, or parasite of 
some great man, and consummated by the fiat of such an assemblage, goes 
forth to the world as the unanimous opinion of the citizen's of such a town or. 
county. Surely this sir, is not entitled to as much respect as the recommenda- 
tion of the Representatives of the nation, acting as individuals, whose cha- 
racter is at stake, and who are pledged for their imparti ality, and who, 
from their official situation, have the best opportunity of becoming acquaint- 
ed with the merits of the respective Candidates for office, and of the prin- 
ciples by which they are actuated. 

I have, Mr. Speaker, remarked on such of the gentleman's arguments a- 
gainst the constitutionality of Caucusing as have occurred'co my recollection 
at this time. Doubtless I have omitted some of them. They will, how- 
ever, I hope, not escape the observation of those who will, with more 
ability, succeed me in the debate. It now becomes my duty to notice 
the second objection which the gentleman has to Caucusing. He alleges., 
Sir, that, setting all other considerations aside, a Caucus is neither neces- 
sary or expedient at taisiane. That the only piausible argument in its fa- 
vor, viz : that it was necessary to preserve the union of the dominant 
party against the intrigues of the minority, does not applv now ; because 

3 

fcjorth Carolina State Library 
Raleigh 



IS CAUCUS DEBATE.. 

there are now no party divisions existing. I differ from the gentleifiatt 
on this point. Where a country or a nation is or has been divided in 
principJys, that division will always exist, unless the minority desert their 
principles and adopt those of their antagonists, or the majority adopt 
those of the'minority. Has either of these events taken pi ace ? Have 
the federalists deserted their principles. No, sir, they denv it themselves 
—the most honorable of the party repel the imputation with scorn. Is the 
gentleman- from Rowan prepared to say that he, or the Republicans have 
shifted their ground and adopted federal principles ? I presume not, sir. 
The distinction,, then, between the parties exists now, as broadly and 
distinctly as it did in 1800, or 1810. There does not exist as much ac- 
rimony or political heat as there did during the. periods aforementioned r 
because for the present, the federalists hare retired from the contest as 
hopeless; but, sir, they have been beaten and not destroyed, overcome but 
not annihilated. Sensible of their inability to meet the Republicans and 
beat them single handed, without aid from some other quarter, they will, 
I presume, avoid an open contest for supremacy. They will rely upon 
what, 1 believe, is their only hope of success — the prospect of dividing the 
republican party. And I believe; sir, that there is more danger of its di- 
vision now than there has oeen, s.ince its- existence- I believe, sir, a di- 
vision will result whenever we are lulled into a dangerous security, by a* 
credulous reliance on the doctrine that there remains no distinction between 
the old parties — whenever we lose sight of principles, and adhere to men, 
rather 'than principles, in pursuing our political career. I believe, sir, that 
it is the object of these resolutions to produce this division — that it is their 
object to subserve the interests of one of the candidates for the presidency 
(Mr. Calhoun) by affecting the unanimity of the Republicans of the.U. States. 
I consider the resolutions, whatever garb they may wear, as intended to- 
elevate this gentleman to the Presidential Chairs. On that account, I am 
decidedly opposed to them. I do not consider tbnt he would, at present, 
represent the sentiments" of the Republicans of No' Carolina. The three 
prominent candidates for that office M-r. Adams, Mr. Crawford and Mr. 
Calhoun, all denominate themselves Republicans. But we know that 
those gentlemen do differ in opimovon political matters of the highest im- 
portance to the interests of the country. To the private virtues and public 
services of all these gentlemen, no one can be more ready or willing to bear 
testimony than myself. I execrate and despise the infamous slanders 
that are daily and publicly heaped upon their characters. But it behoves 
us, sir, nevertheless, to be wary and cautious in examining their political 
tenets ere we make a selection for our ( hief Magistrate. In the State of 
North -Carolina, I conceive that Mr. Adams's claims, however great, will 
not now be urged with any prospect of success. We must decide between 
Crawford and Calhoun. And here, sir, I do suppose, that the Republicans 
cannot hesitate — they cannot believe Mr. Calhoun to be a Republican cf 
the Jeftersonian school ; his ideas are too.mighty — his plans are too splen- 
did and glorious and magnificent to suit the staid habits and sober views of 
the people of this country. A numerous and expensive army, governed 
with Turkish despotism — a gigantic system ot internal improvements, car- 
ried on by the General Government at the expense of the sovereignty of th@f 
Siat^MNi consolidation of power wrested from state sovereignty and vested 



CAUCUS DEBATE 19 

in the General Government, are, I believe, the fundamental features of that 
gentleman's policy. They are too gorgeous and magnificent for the simple 
republicanism of this country, however suitable they may be to the regal 
dynasties of Europe. 

Mr. Crawford, I apprehend, entertains different ideas of Government j 
he is for a plain, cheap, unostentatious administration, instead of a large 
standing army in time of peace, he believes the safety of the country is in 
the free people of the land ; he keeps the General Government and state 
sovereignties separate and distinct — advocates Treasury accountability in 
public officers : in fine, all those principles, which Jefferson has recommend- 
ed and the people have sanctioned by their adoption, and approval, ever 
since the triumph of Republicanism. It is these principles, and not a 
blind and unconditional devotion to any administration which contitute Mr. 
Crawford the consistent and exclusive republican candidate, and entitle him 
to the confidence of the people, and it is the" entertainment of contrary 
principles which I believe constitutes Mr. Calhoun the Federal candidate. 
They have a strong tendency, a near approximation, to some of the most 
objectionable tenets of 1798 — as Federalists they cannot forward Mr. 
Adam's election, they will support the other, as entertaining sentiments 
on government nearly allied to their own ; they will play the same game 
which they attempted without success when De Witt Clinton was a can- 
didate for the Presidency — they will attempt to bring about a secession 
of some discontented Republicans ; and by their aid foist their candidate 
into the chair, and defeat the Republican ticket — This, I believe to be 
the effect and design of the present resolutions — and it is with deep re- 
gret, with unaffected mortification, that I see some Republicans in this 
House aiding them in their views. I have been, sir, somewhat amus- 
ed to perceive that the gentleman from Rowan has, on a question of 
this magnitude, been unable to back his arguments with any better au- 
thority than a few scraps from newspapers. To prove that a Caucus is 
not a favorite measure with every Republican, he has quoted an anonymous 
article, said to have been penned by that great political mystagogue, 
John Taylor of Virginia, but which, for aught we know, may have been 

written by some led-captain t« a Presidential candidate aud has 

also arrayed on his side, the Richmond Enquirer, the National Intelli- 
gencer, and Niles's Register. I know not what that gentleman's polit- 
ical creed is, or on what it is founded, nor do 1 deem it relevant to the 
subject to quote my belief: But I must say, I do not believe in John 
Taylor of Virginia, nor in Mr. Ritchie, nor in Messrs. Gales and Sea- 
ton, nor in Mr. Niles. I do not believe in the political infallibility of 
any man, much less of any newspaper. I fancy, there are none of 
them, in which you may not, in the course of ten years, discover prin- 
ciples advanced and defended of a directly opposite nature. But, sir, that 
gentleman must know, and does know that a reference to a Caucus has al- 
ways been had by the Republicans, whenever it was deemed important 
to concentrate the sentiments of the party on any great national ques- 
tion, the practice has been coeval with the existence of the Republican 
party, it originated in the "high and palmy times of Federalism," « a 
little ere its mighty Julius fell" — it was the means of producing that 



.Mi CAUCUS DEBATE. 

concert an*] union among the Reouhlicans, whch eventuated in the elec 
tion of Jefferson, and of wresting the government from the hands of 
the Federalists, from the iiands of those who were just hurrying us to 
political anarchy and ruin — it has been the means of prest-rving the Re- 
publican ranks unbroken up to the present period, it has been resorted 
to. in the election of Mr. Madison and Mr. Monroe, it is sanctioned 
even by the authority of Mr. Calhoun or Mr. Adams, it is, in fine, sir, 
the only means of producing unanimity of sentiment and concert in ac- 
tion, among the Republicans now, and of preventing an incestuous union 
between the Federalists and discontented or deluded Republicans; and 
the raising up of a Taction composed of such materials, which will be 
reuly either to foster the precocious ambition of a young, unsteady :md 
extravagant self-styled Republican, or to elevate to the Presidential 
Cliair, a we!! known renegado Federalist. With this view of the sub- 
ject, c>nd earnestly deprecating such a crisis of affairs, I shall give to 
the grgamble and resolutions, a decided negative. 

Mr. Shepperd remarked, that it would ever be to him a consideration 
of the highest gratification that the right of the election of President of 
these United States, should be secured to the people of the several states 
composing our Union ; but while he admired and applauded this feature of 
the Federal Constitution, he thought there was but too much reason to ap- 
prehend, that the great body of the people, upon whom (in times of public 
peace and tranquillity, like the present) the General Government has only 
an indirect and almost imperceptible operation, will be found to manifest 
too great a degree of indifference about the election of their Chief Magis- 
trate. For whatever measure of excitement may pervade this House while 
engaged in the discussion, gentlemen may rest assured, that little if any 
of that spirit will be found to possess their constituents at home. From 
tins belief of the temper and disposition of the people upon the important 
question involved in these resolutions, he conceived it his imperious duty 
to guard against all those measures that may have a tendency to withdraw 
from them the fair and impartial exercise of their constitutional privilege, 
in a matter of so much importance. 

Did he believe, what some gentlemen insisted upon, that the nomination 
of a candidate for the Presidency by the Members of Congress, would be 
inoperative upon public opinion, he would not have troubled the House 
with the expression of his sentiments on the subject ; but, as had been ob- 
served by the gentleman from Rowan, he believed the nomination at Wash- 
ington, had heretofore, succeeded in securing the election of the individual 
'recommended, the practice may therefore be regarded as something more 
in effect than the harmless expression oi"an opinion ; for as it has had, so 
will it continue to have, if not a binding, at least a powerful influence on 
the people of this country. Suppose, said he, that before we leave the 
city of Raleigh, some one of the gentlemen in nomination for the 
Presidency should be proclaimed at Washington as the Caucus candidate, 
what would the managing politicians of the day say to those of us who 
might still be inclined to support some other candidate ? We should, then, 
hear much of the folly ami inutility of throwing away our suffrage by bes- 
towing it on one who, we should be told, could not succeed for the want of 



CAUCUS DEBASE. 2l. 

a caucus nomination, and though for one, he should not be disposed to lis- 
ten to these sage admonitions, and -would support his friend, though he 
might stand alone in such preference, yet it could not be doubted, that 
such an appeal, when addressed to the public consideration, would have 
no little effect in determining the vote of the State, especially when we 
bear in mind the melancloly fact, that the people have been, and will con- 
tinue to be, toa indifferent about the result : In such a state of things, ma- 
ny will be seen to decliue giving their votes, whilst others will be found to 
join in the support of that candidate who would not have been the man of 
their choice if they had been left free and uninfluenced by a Caucus nomi- 
nation. He could not, therefore, agree with the gentleman from Beau- 
fort that the preamble and resolutions, now before the House, were mere- 
ly designed to have an effect upon the candidates for the Presidency — He 
did not so consider the question, but regarded it as one that had an imme- 
diate reference to an important constitutional principle, and thought that 
the adoption of the resolutions would go to censure and condemn a prac- 
tice which, in its exercise, has an alarming tendency to a usurpation of the 
rights of the people, by making the election of President a mere matter of 
bargain and sale, by unauthorised individuals at "Washington City. 

The gentleman from Rowan, in opening this discussion, had expressed a 
wish to modify the resolutions, so as to make them more generally accepta- 
ble to the House j but this opportunity, for the present, had been denied 
him by the very unparliamentary motion of the gentleman from Halifax. — 
Should that gentleman's motion fail, the friends of the resolutions will so 
amend them, as to make them convey a mere expression of the opinion of 
this General Assembly on the practice of Congressional Caucuses. What 
right, we are asked, have we to dictate to our Senators and Representatives 
m Congress ? Considering the resolutions as they now stand, and uncon- 
nected with the proposed modification, Mr. S. observed, he did not consi- 
der them as holding any thing of a dictatorial tone, but as respectfully con- 
veying that instruction and request which the Legislative Assemblies of 
our own and other States, have frequently exercised, without a question of 
their right or authority so to do. We have, indeed, no power to control the le- 
gislative will of our members in Congress, or to prescribe what shall be their 
private deportment whilst at the City of Washington ; yet we have not only 
the right, but it is our imperious duty, to convey to them an expression of 
our opinion upon any question of public moment, and which their conduct 
may have a tendency to control ; still he did not question their power of 
determining upon the course they might pursue in relation to our request or 
instruction, by either conforming to the legislative will of their State, or 
by acting in contradiction to it 5 but for this, as well as all other acts of 
their public conduct, they would have to account to their constituents.— 
One of the resolutions under consideration, called the attention of our mem- 
bers in Congress to an amendment of the Constitution of the United States, 
so as to provide for the election of Electors upon the District plan through- 
out the States. 

In providing for the election of President and Vice President by the in- 
tervention of electors, the Constitution had removed it one degree from 
the people themselves, and in adopting the mode by which the Electors 
^hould be chosen, he should prefer that which would be most likely to pro- 



U% .CAUCUS DEBATE. 

duce the same result, as if the ultimate vote were exercised direct! y by the 
people. Shis he thought was to he attained by establishing the "District 
principle. It was also to be preferred, from its tendency to secure a more 
general rote, by inducing the people to feel and exercise a deeper interest 
in the result of the election. But when called upon by the General Tick- 
et plan, to vote for fifteen Electors, situated in different and remote sec- 
tions of the State, most of whom must be entirely unknown, even byname, 
to the great body of our citizens, it cannot be expected that they should 
manifest any solicitude to exercise their constitutional privilege. But we 
way be told, that the standing and character of the candidates for the elec- 
toral appointment will not be sought after by the people, and that they 
will content themselves by knowing, if elected, whom they will support for 
President. But gentlemen may rest assured that such had not been, nor 
would it be tlie practical result : The people have, and will continue to require 
souse knowledge or proof of the integrity and ability of the individuals whom, 
they are called upon to employ as their agents, in a business' of so much. 
importance. 

Mr. S. concluded by remarking, that he should vote against the motion 
1 or indefinite postponement $ and if it did not prevail, he hoped to see 
'he resolutions so '-amended, as to make them agreeable to all who were 
frieiQi#lf to ;the r>riri;iples .which they contained. 

Mr. B. B-KGWivr said, in rising to exercise the constitutional right which 
■v possessed in common with every member of that House, he must be per- 
mitted to express his regret that the preamble and resolutions, now lin- 
ger consideration, had been introduced at all. He regretted it, because 
lie believed much, of our time would be consumed in their discussion. 
.•v.ich,, in justice to our constituents, ought to be devoted to subjects of 
useful legislation ; that if adopted, they would be inoperative, and there- 
to?®; useless | as the instructions which they contain, he had no doubt, 
wo«ki be disobeyed by our Senators and Representatives in Congress 3 
that they were extremely objectionable, inasmuch as they proposed for 
this Legislature to take on itself a jurisdiction which it had no right to ex- 
ercise. In the course which lie should pursue on this occasion, he was 
-■nhif'ucnced by any partiality which he might feel for either of the dis- 
$m go i shed individuals who were before the American public as candidates 
ior the Presidency ; as such considerations should always be subordinate 
to the great interests of the nation — .Mr. B. said, we were called on by 
she Preamble and Resolutions to assume an authority which he believed 
: . o vers- m competent to exercise ; we were called on to instruct our Mem- 
bers . Congress how they should act ; not in their public churaciers, as 
liepresentaiives, but prescribing rules of conduct which were to govern 
them in their private capacities as individuals. He believed the right of 
the constituent to instruct the Representative as to what course of conduct 
be should pursue on all questions of national importance, was one of the 
•most valuable and unquestionable principles of a free government, but 
whenever we attempt to dictate to them — not how they shall legislate as 
Members of Congress ; but in what manner they shall act as private in- 
divjdtifds 9 we are no longer acting in our legitimate sphere ; and we ex- 
pose ourselves to have the charge of usurpation retorted on us, which the 



CAUCUS DEBATE. 2-> 

author of the preamble so jealously labors to fix on Members of Congress^ 
who, as citizens of this country, assemble for the purpose of nominating 
to the people of the United States some individuals, whom they deem l?est 
qualified by their talents and virtues, to fill the executive department ot 
the government. If the Legislature assumes to itself the power of impos- 
ing silence on Members of Congress as regards the election of a President 
and Vice President, the absurd consequence would follow, that they could 
restrain them in the exercise of any other personal privilege : and might, 
in the plenitude of their authority, and with equal propriety, adopt resolu- 
tions instructing them not to attend the President's levees, lest the purity 
of their Republican principles should become corrupted. Mr. Brown said, 
the framers of the constitution, in confiding to the freemen of these States, 
the election of a President and Vice President, must have supposed that 
they would exercise that privilege understandingly, and avail themselves 
of all the information within their reach, from the almost boundless extent. 
of our territory : it was impossible that the great body of the people could 
have a personal knowledge of the several persons who are in nomination 
for the Presidency ; how then are they to : obtain this information ? If they 
resort to the newspapers they are liable to delusion ; for whilst one jour- 
nal ascribes to one of the persons in nomination every moral and political 
excellence, the columns of another teems with defamation against the same 
individual, and is unable to discern in him any one quality which would 
fit him for the Presidency. Where, then, he asked, could the people of 
this country with more propriety apply for information than to their Re- 
presentatives in Congress, w r ho have opportunities of estimating the merit? 
and pretensions of the persons in nomination, much superior to- those etv> 
joyed by their constituents ? But it had been uiged, by gentlemen in fa- 
vor of the resolutions, that a nomination at Washington by Members of 
Congress afforded the fairest opportunity for the operation of intrigue and 
corruption on their choice. It is a sufficient answer to this argument, that 
the Members of Congress, coming directly from the great body of the peo-- 
ple ; their feelings and interests are in a great degree identified ; they are- 
bound to the country by the strong ties of affection and interest, they are 
responsible to those who elect them for the faithful discharge of their duty, 
and they are dependent on them for their re-election, and therefore prompt- 
ed by every motive of patriotism and of self-interest to act with a proper- 
fidelity to the public in their designation of the individual whom they 
would recommend as President ; which recommendation is to have ni» 
binding effect on public sentiment — but to be received for as much as it is 
worth, and no more. If the privilege of making a nomination, which. 
Members of Congress possess to the same extent that other citizens do, 
should be abused, and they were to endeavor to impose' on the neopie a 
man who was neither honest nor capable, there is virtue and intelligence 
enough in the people of the United States to reject, with indignation, the 
individual who would degrade the highest office within their gift. But i*' 
had been said by gentlemen who were opposed to a nomination at the city 
of Washington, that its great object was to control public opinion, and 
thereby to create an election in direct opposition to the wishes of the na 
tiun. He beiieved public opinion had uniformly preceded the nomination^ 
heretofore made, aiid had pointed to the individuals who had befm reconi 



21 CAUCUS DEBATE 

mended as the proper persons to be chosen ; that Members of Congress, 
in expressing their opinions on this subject, were merely the organs through 
whtfh the sense of their constituents was expressed ; that most of the e- 
iections to the House of Representatives had been made with reference to 
this question. But who does the resolutions now before us propose to 
instruct, asked Mr. B. ? One of the gentlemen is a man venerable for Ids 
years ; whose solid understanding has been enriched by the treasures of 
experience, and who might, with propriety, be said "to have done the 
state some service ;" who was not less estimable in private life than he 
was eminent as a statesman ; and whose history for the last thirty years, 
was an ample security to the people of this country, that, on no occasion, 
would he betray their interests — he alluded to Nathaniel Macon ; and 
the gentleman from Rowan (Mr. Fisher) must pardon him, if he should 
say (for he meant no disparagement to the Preamble and Resolutions of 
which he was the author) he believed the understanding of the individual 
just spoken of, would not be much enlightened on constitutional questions 
hy any reflections which were to be found in that production, he thought 
it now too late for this Legislature to place so old and so respectable a 
public servant in leading-strings. The gentleman from Rowan, said Mr. 
B, has produced an authority in support of his course which is rather un- 
fortunate. He says the state of Tennessee has protested against a caucus 
being held at the city of Washington. It is true she is the daughter of 
North -Carolina, but however highly he might admire her military prowess 
and patriotism, he feared she had degenerated from that pure morality in 
her legislation which he hoped would always mark the course of her an- 
cestor. But a short time has elapsed since the legislature of that state 
acted on the very principle by nominating Gen. Jackson to ihe people of 
tile United States as President, which Mr. Grundy (the mover of the pro- 
test) and the Legislature of Tennessee now so much reprobate as uncon- 
stitutional and of dangerous tendency. If the Legislature of Tennessee 
assumes the right of nominating a President, surely they should not ob- 
ject to the exercise of the same right by others — We are told by gentle- 
men, that a recommendation of some person as President by Members ot 
Congress, has never been resorted to, except when important principles^ 
were involved ; and if it was ever useful, it is now entirely unnecessary, 
as party rancour has subsided ; and it is no longer a question of principle, 
but a choice of men. The nomination of Mr. Monroe was an instance to 
the contrary ; the nation at that time had just emerged from a war in 
which she had been signally triumphant ; our navy had acquired imperish- 
able renown j our armies had won a succession of the most splendid victo- 
ries, and party spirit had in a great degree become extinguished in the ge- 
neral joy for the return of peace. The Republican administration had at 
no period reached a prouder elevation than they enjoyed at that time: and 
opposition to Mr. Monroe, on principle, had never been thought of. Pre- 
cedent, therefore, did not bear gentlemen out in the assertion that all no- 
miiiations heretofore made were when great, principles were involved.— 
Mr. B. was opposed to the passage of the Preamble and Resolutions on 
another ground ; they contained a grave charge against Members of Con- 
gress who met in Caucus. It was asserted, m substance, in the Preamble, 
that they were guilty of the crime of perjury, by violating the spirit of the" 



V 



GAUGUS DEBATE. 2$ 

constitution which they had sworn to support. This, he said, was a rev 
flection on three of the distinguished individuals who were candidates for 
the Presidency, Mr. Clay, Mr. Crawford, and Mr. Calhoun, all of whom 
had attended meetings of this kind, some of them more than once. Their 
characters were the property of the nation ; and he was not disposed, by 
adopting the principles of the preamble, to sanction the degrading charge 
of perjury, which it made against those persons and all other who had at^ 
tended such meetings ; as if it is a violation of the spirit of the constitu*- 
tion now, it was equally so heretofore. But gentlemen object to a nomi~ 
nation at Washington, because it is calculated to defeat that provision of 
the constitution, which declares, if no election is made by the people, then 
the House of Representatives shall elect. It is alleged, that inasmuch as 
a nomination by making an election certain, prevents that provision from 
going into operation, the constitution is violated. If this be a breach of 
the constitution, then every assemblage of the citizens of this country to 
promote the success of a particular candidate is equally a breach of the 
constitution. As well might it be said, if our present worthy President 
were dangerously ill, he ought not to employ medical assistance, because^ 
if he recovered, that provision of the constitution would be defeated, which 
clothes the Vice President with his authority in the event of his death. — > 
Such reasoning would not be more preposterous than the argument just 
mentioned. 

Mr. B. said, the experience of the last twenty-three years furnished 
ample proof that no such dangerous consequences as had been apprehend- 
ed, would flow from a nomination by Members of Congress. The last 
four illustrious individuals who had filled the Presidency, were recom- 
mended by our Representatives in Congress ; and no government in the 
history of the world had been administered with more ability and integrity 
than ours. Those who were then opposed to a nomination, predicted the 
subversion of our constitution and the destruction of our liberties ; yet 
notwithstanding all these evil forebodings, our constitution still survives 
in its orignal purity ; and the citizen yet enjoys unimpaired all the rights 
that a free government could bestow. Gentiemen on the other side claim, 
exclusive friendship for the people; they wish to put down a practice which 
wrests from them the privilege of making an election. Mr. B. asked, who 
were the friends to the people ? Those who were for pursuing such a course 
as would unite public opinion and make it effective in the election of §. 
Chief Magistrate, or those who were for preventing that course, and, iq, 
effect, defeating the will of the majority, and thereby causing the election. 
to devolve on the House of Representatives, where the door to intrigue 
and management was open ; where the Representatives of two millions of 
souls in the small states, will have as much weight as the Representatives 
of seven millions in the large States ? By a reference to the census of the 
United States, it will be seen, that the state of North- Carolina has a po^ 
pulation nearly equal to seven of the small states ; and that the great 
state of New-York is superior in number to ten of the small states | yet, 
if the election was decided by the House of Representatives, where each, 
state would be entitled to a single vote, the two populous states which he. 
had spoken cf, would sink to a level with the little state of Illinois, which, 
contains a population not exceeding sixty thousand souls j and which i« 

4 



ZO CAUCUS DEBATE. 

entitled only to one Representative on the floor of Congress. Sir. B. re- 
marked, if the. election went to the House of Representatives, corruption 
and intrigue could effect a conquest over the integrity of our Members of 
Congress with much more ease than they could in a caucus ; in the latter, 
each individual Member voted, and a majority roust be gained ; in the for- 
mer, where - the votes were given by states, thirty-one Members of Con- 
gress could elect a President. In his estimation, this was the most ob- 
noxious feature in the Federal Constitution, a Chief Magistrate might be 
imposed on the nation, by this mode of election, in direct opposition to its 
wishes : This House cannot have forgotten the imminent danger to which 
our constitution had been exposed, on a former occasion, when the elec- 
tion was thrown into the House of Representatives ; the spirit of party 
was prepared to sacrifice it at the unhallowed shrine of ambition ; a pow~ 
erful faction in Congress, boldly spoke of making a President by law; 
which would have produced all the horrors of a civil war. Believing that 
a nomination of soma individual for the Presidency by the Members of 
Congress, would have the effect to avert an evil so justly dreaded ; be- 
lieving that it would unite public sentiment, and enable the people to suc- 
ceed in making an election, he should vote for the indefinite postponement 
of the Preamble and Resolutions, and was in favor of a nomination at Wash- 
ington, a proceeding which prudence dictated, example sanctioned, and 
experience taught us was productive of no evil consequence. Mr. B.' 
concluded, by expressing his sense of the obligation which he was under to 
the House for the indulgence which they had extended to him. 

Mr. J. A. Hill said, he should not attempt to follow the gentleman last 
up through all his arguments. He seemed disposed to revive a party-spi- 
rit which he had honed would have been suffered to sleep forever. 

The gentleman had said, that members of Congress were better calcula- 
ted to select a fit candidate for the Presidency than the mass of the people could' 
be supposed to be,, who must necessarily be unacquainted with the merits of 
such as might be hektup for that office in different parts of the Union; which 
was, in effect, saying, that the framers of our Constitution had given to the peo- 
ple a privilege which they were hot capable of exercising with propriety. Our 
present worthy Chief Magistrate, in his late communication to Congress, 
seems fo think differently'. He says, "We are all liable to error, and 
those/ who are* engaged in the management of public affairs are more subject 
to excitement, and to be led astray by their particular interests, and pas- 
sions, than the great body of our constituents, who, being at home, in the 
pursuit of their ordinary vocations, are calm, but deeply interested specta- 
tors of events, and of the conduct of those who are parties to them. To 
the people every department of the government, and every individual in each 
are responsible ; and the more full their information, the better they can 
judge of the wisdom of the policy pursued, and of the conduct of each in 
regard to it. From their dispassionate judgment, much aid may always 
be obtained, while their approbation will fomi the greatest incentive, and 
most gratifying reward for virtuous actions, and the dread of their censure 
the best security against the abuse of their confidence. Their interests* 
in all vital questions are the same; and the bond by sentiment, as well 
<ts by interest, will be propor.tionab'y strengthened as they are better in- 



CAUCUS DEBATE. 2£ 

formed of the real state <f public aftairs, especially in difficult con- 
junctures. — It is by such knowledge that local prejudices and jealousies 
are surmounted, and that a national policy, extending its fostering care 
and protection to all the great interests of our union is formed and steadi- 
ly adhered to," 

The Legislature of each State has tlie power to determine in what man- 
ner tiie electors of a President and Vice-President of the United States 
shall be chosen. They are generally chosen by the people ei 1 her in districts or 
by general ticket. And is there a man in this house willing to surrender 
this right ? He knew there was uot ; and if we are unwilling to part with 
the right, we ought to take care it be not encroached upon .When members 
«f Congress meet in Caucus, it is said they meet as individuals. This is 
true, but they do so without authority ; and if they continue the practice, 
they may hereafter claim the privilege as a right Indeed their nominations 
have heretofore always had a binding effect on the people. 

The impropriety of this course, appears from this consideration. If the 
Electors fail to make, choice of a President, the election devolves upon the 
House of Representatives of the United .States : and can it be supposed 
that, after many of these members had met in Caucus, and joined in the 
nomination of a President, that they would be fitted to act impartially in 
this new situation of things ? He very much doubted it. 'hey would 
certainly appear as partizans for their favorite Candidate, without regard 
to other considerations. 

But gentlemen say there is great danger to he apprehended from the 
election coming into the House of Representatives, and that the nomina- 
nation by Members of Congress is desirable to prevent this issue of the 
election. So that, in his view, in order to avoid danger, we ,run madly in- 
to it. He acknowledged that he would greatly prefer that the President 
.and Vice-President should be elected by the Electors, freely chosen, be- 
cause there would, in such a course, be no possibility of corruption ; but 
if it happened otherwise, he should be satisfied with the result, as being 
agreeably to the provisions of the j Constitution. 

The argument adduced in favor of Caucuses, that they have been used 
on former occasions without producing any bad effects, had no weight with 
him. He deemed the practice contrary to the spirit of the constitution, 
and more honored in the breach than the observance* 

Mr. Rynum said, he rose with peculiar diffidence, to submit to the con- 
sideration of the House, those reasons which would influence him to vote 
in favor of the indefinite postponement of the resolutions on the table. On 
this occasion he should have preferred giving a siient vote. But silence 
in him, at this time, might be construed into a dereliction of duty. Hav- 
ing not been much in the habit of addressing public bodies, he was appre- 
hensive of experiencing some difficulty in communicating his sentiments to 
the House on so important a subject $ but courage, said he, should regard 
oniy the cause it advocates ; being conscious of the correctness of that, it 
should despise the periis and dangers that attend its pursuit. No gentle- 
man on this floor, said Mr. B. more truly regretted the introduction of this 
distracting question than he did ; but as it had been brought before the 
House, he was disposed to contribute his mite in disposing of it in the 



28 CAUCUS DEBATE. 

briefest manner possible, which he conceived would be effected by postpon- 
ing it indefinitely. 

In reply to the remarks of the honorable tleman from Rowan, which 
he believed were nostly taken from the Preamble and Resolutions th?,n on 
the table 5 who commences by telling us, that a meeting of the members 
of Congress, to consult together" on the question of the Presidential Elec- 
tion, which meeting he has seen proper to term a Cue as, is contrary to 
the letter and spirit of our Constitution. Rut, Mr. Speaker, said He, I 
defy that gentleman or any other on this floor, to lay his finger on any 
clause in that instrument, which prohibits the holding of such a meeting. 

The gentleman has also told the House, that the Washington Caucus, 
in effect, chooses the President by the nomination they make. But is this 
the fact ? Is it obligatory on the people to ratify or sanction a recommen- 
dation of a meeting of their members of Congress ? As well might we say, 
it is obligatory on us to adopt the advice of a friend, or to marry the wo- 
man who is recommended to us by our parents. That gentleman further 
observed, that the Constitution of the United States prohibits members of 
Congress from being Electors, and therefore, it might be inferred, that 
it was not intended that they should, in any way, interfere in the election 
of a President. But, what appears to me a contradiction in terms, in the 
next breath, he informs us that any p 4 evious expression of their opinions 
might have an improper influence on their r= nal vote, which belongs to 
them agreeably to the provisions of the Constitution. So that it seems in 
one place they have something to do with the election, and in another they 
have not. In support of his opinions, the gentleman makes a long quota- 
tion from Mr. Niles's Register, which he seems to consider as perfectly 
orthodox. But who is Mr. Niles? He is the Editor of a paper, whose 
sentiments readily accommodate themselves to his own interest, and whose 
opinions vary with the times. The gentleman goes on to state that Cau- 
cuses give rise to intrigue and bribery. But 1 would enquire, said Mr. B. 
of that, gentleman, if it would not be easier to bribe thirteen men, than one 
hundred and thirty ? And if no election is made by the people, the ques- 
tion may be decided by a majority of twenty -four votes— that is, a vote for 
each state in the Union. 

It was observed, by my friend from Stokes, continued Mr. B. that my 
motion for the indefinite postponement of the resolutions, was an infringe- 
tnentof parliamentary decorum. Sir, I came not here, to attend to the 
rules of foreign parliaments, or to be bound ilow'n by the etiquette of courtly 
ceremonies ; but to guard the interest and protect the rights of the people, 
whose servant I am. Ke has told us too, that ( aucuses are no new things. 
I perfectly agree with that gentleman. * aucuses of the very kind that he 
now so loudly condemns, have been constantly resorted to for twenty -four 
years in all cases where several candidates have offered for any important 
bffice 5 nor have we ever heard of any mischief arising from them ; but, on 
the contrary^ much good, by preventing a division of strength in those 
who have the same end in view. But, Mr. Speaker, regardless of every 
other consideration, when I reflect upon the present happy and prosperous 
situation of our country and compare it with the distracted and disturbed 
•condition of the different powers abroad, I confess that lam influenced by 
i double, incentive to opnose any measure whose object is an alteration in 



CAUCUS DEBATE. 29 

our present political system, while England and Ireland have groaned 
under the yoke of poverty and oppression. While France has been drain- 
ed other richest treasures, and poured out her dearest blood on the altar of 
ambition ; while Germany, harassed by divisions and contentions, has 
been compelled to impose her gag-laws to prevent the free circulation of 
knowledge ; while the proud Autocrat of Russia, has not dared to venture 
himself amongst his own subjects, for fear that^ vengeance knight overtake 
his acts of oppression, the American people have continued to reap the bene- 
fits of a government, at whose head has stood, for twenty-four years, a Presi- 
dent, placedt here by the recommendation of a Caucus nomination. 

Buti gentlemen, have called those meetings conspiracies. Is this, ask- 
ed Mr. B. the fact? If he understood any thing of the nature of these 
meetings, they consisted of a number of members of Congress, who meet 
together, in order to express their opinions on the fittest man in the union, 
to be trusted to preside over the nation as supreme magistrate. And who, 
he asked, could better determine this question, than a set of men chosen by 
the people themselves, for their virtues, their talents, and their patriotism, 
many of whom, prouably are well acquainted with all the different candidates 
for that office ? It is impossible that the mass of the people, in every quar- 
ter of the union, can be personally acquainted with the candidates, and 
they are therefore dependent on those who are, for proper information on 
that subject. And who are better qualified to inform them than their im- 
mediate Representatives ? he thought none, though, gentlemen, had held 
up these meetings, as a " rAW-head and bloody-bones," to alarm the peo- 
ple, and to enlist on their side the prejudices of the vulgar. 

The most violent opposers of these meetings themselves, hold similar 
Ones annually, for the purpose of nominating their Members of Assembly 
and Members of Congress. Mr. B. alluded to the Tammany Society ot 
New- York, where the first alarm respecting Caucuses was made ; and he 
had been informed that Mr. Grundy, the author of the Tennessee Resolu- 
tions, which was the prototype of those which lie on our table, was him-, 
self once the warmest advocate for the t'aucus system ; but as the propos- 
ed Caucus, will not, it is believed, promote his views in relation to the next 
Presidential election, he is now violently opposed to it. 

To abandon a system at this time, which has been uniformly acted upon 
with success, by the Republicans of the Union, would be yielding up the 
sword of victory into the hands of our political enemies — it would be clip- 
ping off the locks trom the head of our political Sampson, and drawing or 
our shoulders, hordes of conquering Philistines. 

Besides, said Mr. B. I would enquire what right has this house to- in- 
struct our Senators and Representatives in Congress ? Has our constitution 
given us any such privilege ? If so, I would be glad that gentlemen would 
point it out. If indeed we have a right to instruct our Representatives in 
Congress, they have the same right to instruct us, for we derive our au- 
thority from the same source, and are both amenable to the people for our 
conduct. But how would such instructions be received by this house ? 
Would they not be treated with that contempt which they would most rich- 
ly merit P They certainly would. W'hat benefit do gentlemen expect to 
derive from defeating the good ola course of a recommendation by a major- 
ity of our friends &t Washington ? He had yet heard of no advantage t« 



itti CAUCUS DEBATE. 

be derived from such an event. The result would certainly be, that there 
would be no election by the people. We know that there are five candi- 
dates for the Presidential < hair, and no gentleman on this floor can say, 
If they be all voted for, that any one of them has any chance of being elect- 
ed. And if there be no election by the people, t'ie election must, of course, 
■go into the House of Representatives. He had been taught, that Aristo- 
cracies were the worst of all governments. Here we should see the few 
govern the many, contrary to every Republican maxim of government. 
The thirteen small States, containing a population less than three millions, 
would have it in their power, to give the United States a President, con • 
trarv to the wishes of eleven of the largest States, containing more than se- 
ven millions and a half of inhabitants. Would this be a result consistent 
with Republican Government ? Surely it would not, and a President 
thus elected, might have views directly opposed to those of a majority of 
both Houses of Congress ; which would be pregnant with the greatest dis- 
satisfaction to a large majority of the Nation, and evils might emanate from 
it which our latest posterity might rue. But, sir, said Mr. B. I do trust 5 
that this country will be preserved from such a state of- things, by holding 
fast to the good old course hitherto pursued. I do trust, that the Repub- 
licans of the present day, will not prove themselves the unworthy offspring 
of their honored and venerated progenitors, whose blood and treasure, have 
purchased those liberties, of which we now so proudly boast. I do hope, 
said he, that the lire of 76, is not yet entirely extinguished in the breasts of 
my countrymen. M r. B. had no doubt that incendiary agents were now travel- 
ling to and fro, throughout this country, preaching up discord and division, 
in order to divide the strength of the unsuspecting Republicans of the 
Union, in relation to the pending Presidential election. Let us, said he, 
look around us, and see if there be no Judases amongst ns, by whom we 
may be betrayed into the hands of our enemies. 

It has been asserted by an honorable gentleman on this floor, that those 
who composed the I aucuses at Washington, were a combination of in- 
triguers and traitors. If so, they have been of a very friendly character 
to this Union ; for they have given us a Jefferson, a Madison, and a Mon- 
roe, than whom, Athens, nor Sparta, Rome nor Carthage, have never boasted 
■of profounder politicians, or mo re accomplished statesmen. While a * sul- 
cus continues to produce s-ueh hissings to the Nation, he implored gentle- 
men to leave it unhurt, as an ancient oak of the forest, whose fostering 
branches have afforded us shelter and shade, from the scorching rays of 
party animosities. But before I conclude, added Mr. B. let we remind 
gentlemen of the following trite, but correct maxim, which is applicable to 
this, as well as to other occasions, "united we shall stand, but divided 
lie must f all. 

Mr. Helme rose, and made some remaks against the indefinite postpone- 
ment of the Preamble and Resolutions ; which, as the Reporter did not dis-< 
ti.iCtly hear them, and Mr. H. though applied to, has declined to furnish 
a sketch of them, we are under the necessity of omitting. 

Mr. Roane said, that when these resolut ons were first introduced, he 
saw no great objection to them, but, on examining the Preamble he 



CAUCUS DEBATE $i 

thought it very improper. He was therefore opposed to the proposition 
at?) er. 

The 18th section of our Bill of Rights, says, "that the people have a 
right to assemble together, to consult for the common good, to instruct 
their representatives," &c. He saw no impropriety in our members of 
Congress meeting together, and advising their constituents as to the can- 
didate for the Presidency most likely to answer their expectations. There 
was nothing in this that infringed any principle of the Constitution. His 
constituents knew but little of Mr. Crawford, Mr. Adams, or Mr. Calhoun. 
'And where must they enquire for information ? — Their neighbours know a?, 
ittle of these gentlemen as themselves. To whom, then, can they apply 
with more prospect of success, than to our members of Congress ? \\ hat 
pe wished was, to have the people well informed. For himself, he had 
ittle preference for any of the candidates. He did. not believe the Mem- 
)ers of that House were expected by their constituents to instruct our mem- 
>ers in Congress. All the rights which the people have not delegated, are 
eserved to them ; but one of the first things we see in the Preamble to 
hese Resolutions, denies to our members of Congress the right to act in 
elation to the Presidential question, as they judge proper. We, in our 
:ourt : houses and other public places, meet and consult on public affairs 
vhenever we please, and } r et it is proposed that we shall say to our Repres- 
entatives in Congress you shall not meet together. For his part, he was 
villing to hear the opinion of our members of Congress, on this subject or 
nv other. He did not think either he or his constituents would beinjur- 
dby it. 

Mr. Alston, had hoped, that the Preamble and Resolutions now before 
ie House, would have taken a different course, he wished the motion to 
ostpone them indefinitely had not been made, and that, they might have 
een permitted to have been referred to a committee of the whole House* 
-here their merits and demerits would have undergone a full and fair in- 
stigation j but as the motion to postpone indefinitely precluded him from 
Ivy attempt to shape them as he wished, he should vote againt it, with a 
ew, if the motion should not prevail, to propose such amendments or 
odifications as would make them acceptable to himself, and perhaps to 
hers situated as he was. 

He did not believe with gentlemen who had preceded him in this debate, 
at Caucuses either violated the letter or spirit of the Constitution ; for 
though there was a clause in the Constitution of the United States, that 
id no member of the Senate or House of Representatives should bs 
Elector, it could not $e construed in such manner as to prevent them 
mi expressing an opinion as individuals, who they might prefer as Presi- 
nt and Vice-President of the United States. He himself had been in 
veral Caucuses, and never thought he had violated the letter or spirit of 
it Constitution we hid all so solemnly sworn to support. When the 
ntention of parties in this country was at as high a pitch as they ever had 
en before or since, he well knew, that both sides had caucused : he ai- 
led to the celebrated contest between Jefferson and Adams, when Jeffer™ 
succeded to the Presidency of the United States. He would mention es- 
cumstance which tended to shew what he said was- true. At thepreced- 



6-i CAUCUS DEBATE. 

inflection, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney was run with Mr. Adams, who, at 
a Caucus, was withdrawn, and Maj. Tho's. Pinckney substituted in his olace, 
He never considered the minority absolutely bound in a Caucus to surren- 
der their opinions to the majority, for he well remembered that a Resolu- 
tion was once submitted in Caucus so to bind them, and being objected to, 
it was withdrawn. Generally speaking, the will of the majority had been 
acquiesced in. In fact, he never knew an instance to the contrary ; for 
the object of a Caucus was to harmonize and unite the party, so that a di- 
vision should not take place, and give their opponents an opportunity of 
taking advantage of their divisions and place a man in the Presidential 
Chair against the will of the predominant party. But, said Mr. A. is there 
in the present contest for a President of the United States anything like 
that state of things which heretofore existed ? Certainly not, there is no 
contest about party, nothing like principle involved in the question. AH 
the candidates who have been brought before the public, are of the same 
politics, and all of them had distinguished themselves as honorable and pa- 
triotic men, and which ever of them should fairly be elected, he should 
cheerfully support the administration of, provided he did not violate the ex- 
ample and principles which his great predecessors had set before him. 
Mr. A. further observed, that if gentlemen would take a survey of the U. 
States, they would find, if he might be allowed the expression, that the 
most high-toned of each of the old contending Parties, ware divided about 
who shall be our next President, and was there any thing strange in this ? 
He contended that the best, wisest, and most patriotic men in our country, 
perfectly uniting in principle, may honestly differ about men. He said, 
that the present was a contest about men, and not about measures. He 
therefore did think, that any measure calculated to prejudge or bias the in- 
telligent and enlightened people of the American Republic, in the exercise 
of their free choice, at this time, and under existing circumstances, useless, 
unnecessary and improper. Leave the people to exercise their own inde-jj 
pendent will, and they seldom err. He had no objection to declare this as 
a legislator or an individual 5 at the same time, he expressed his decided 
disapprobation of the Preamble and Resolutions as they now stand ; but 
reject the motion to postpone, and you have then perfectly at command, 
you can alter, change or modify them as you please. It does not follow a] 
all, if you reject the present motion to postpone indefinitely that these reso* 
lutionsare to be adopted : for he should vote himself against passing them 
unless modified to suit his views. Are gentlemen afraid to meet the ques- 
tion fairly, openly and manly ? Hehoped not, why then not let lis (lay* an op- 
portunity of placing the question before the enlightened and intelligent public, 
in the best possible shape in which it is susceptible ? Mr. A. further observe* 
that his great objection to the election's finally going into the House of Rq 
jpresentatives had very much diminished, when he took a view of the lat) 
Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Before this Amend 
ment took place, a choice had to be made from the five highest upon th 
list of those voted for as President and Vice -President of the United States j 
by the amendment, the House of Representatives are to make an electi|| 
out of the three highest voted for as President. Could gentlemen see ' 
difference here ? As the Constitution formerly stood, one large st 
inight bring its candidate within the five highest, and prevent an electi 



CAUCUS DEBATE "33 

% the peopie ; but now, it would take a combination of three of the largest 
states to accomplish that, which one might have done before the Amend- 
ment. Again, in the event of no election being made by the House of Re- 
presentatives, the Amendment provides that the Vice-President shall be- 
come President. You will, therefore, be sure of a President, whether the 
House of Representatives make an election or not This provision he con- 
sidered of vast importance ; for he well knew that an opinion prevailed a- 
mong the best and wisest men in the nation, that, in the event of no elec- 
tion being made, as the Constitution stood prior to the Amendment, that 
the Union was dissolved ; that we should have been left without guide or 
compass to steer the National ship. 

The gentleman from Beaufort, (Mr. Blackledge) has emphatically told 
■us, that we are, by this motion, to test, whether we approve or disapprove 
of the Preamble and Resolutions as they now stand. Had it not been for 
this remark, he (Mr. A. ) might have been spared from troubling the House with 
any observations. Now, Mr. Speaker, continued he, can this motion try the 
question, when so many of us declare we are opposed to the Preamble and 
Resolutions as they now stand, but have no objection of expressing our 
opinion as to the propriety or impropriety of a < origressional nomination ? 
If a Congressional nomination amounts to an election, as gentlemen I have 
no doubt believe it will, or why so solicitous for it, he, for one, would 
prefer, at tlie present time, when all party distinctions were lost, that the 
election should go into the House of Representatives, rather than to be 
thus made. He feared nothing from a combination of small States. Let 
any gentleman cast his eye around, and take a survey over the U. States, 
he would find the small States scattered over this wide-extended conti- 
nent and intermixed between the large States possessing totally different 
interests and views ; an union therefore, of small Stares to the piejudice 
of the union, is next to impossible, neither had he any fear that corruption 
would or could find its way into the House of Representatives. But, on 
the contrary, in Caucus, a few large States combining together, taking with 
them a few small States, could make ar election. For instance, let New- 
York, Pennsylvania and Virginia combine, and they will fix on you whom 
they please. And is it at all unlikely that one or two demagogues in each 
of those States may sway the balance? Here, then, you can have a Presi- 
dent palmed upon you by a fewer number of members of Congress, than 
you would be likely to have, if the election should finally go into the 
House of Representatives ? Why, then, shall we be deprived, by the pre- 
sent motion, of expressing our opinion in that, shape that best suits our 
views? If the resolutions cannot be made satisfactory to the majority of 
the House, they can still be rejected, or even then postponed, if it be the 
wish of a majority. 

Mr. A. said, he did not intend to follow the example of some gentle- 
men, by making remarks to the prejudice of any particular candidate," he 
would, however, take the liberty oi stating to the House, what would be 
recollected by every Member in it, that some tw:; or three sessions of Con- 
gress past, a certain set of motion-makers had started up in I ongress, for 
their motions had been printed in every part of the United States, calling 
for information, as he verily believed, to create a prejudice against the pre- 
sent administration*. They soon found themselves mistaken, and i-key 

5 ''■>•" 



34 CAUCUS DEBATE* 

changed tneir mode of attack. If Ids memory served him, their next at- 
tack, Mr. A. said, was directed at the head of the State Department ; but 
when the doors of his bureau we're thrown wide open to the call, and every 
thing they called for given, clam >ur on that head was soon hushed into sj* 
lence. Their next attack was directed against the War Department, and 
if one hundredth part of what was said and insinuated;, had been true, he 
was quite certain that the officer who presides over that department, would 
not, in this Assembly, find a man to raise his voice in his favor ; but what 
was the result; that officer, with a promptitude that always characterizes 
his conduct, gave all that was called for, and completely, put to shame 
those who had made the call. He shewed t;> them and the nation, that 
instead of extravagance and waste, he had brought chaos to system, and 
hv\ actually, by his arrangement, saved md-i.ms to the nation. He had 
reduced the expense ofeaclv man in service nearly one half. He asked 
gentlemen to recollect what had recently taken place far up the Missouri 
river, American citizens had been butchered, plundered and deprived of 
their hard earnings, the ground had. been stained by the blood of white 
men, by the savage tomahawk and scalping knife, and many thousand 
dollars worth of property lost, all of which was owing to this party, who 
prevented by their motions in Congress, a force from marching in time to 
take post high enough up the river, so as to have saved harmless, such of 
our enterprizing citizens who might have ve itured in pursuit of game. It 
would seem as though the Secretary of War had foreseen the events which 
have followed; for he had actually given orders to march an armed force, 
and to erect a fort high enough up the river, to have prevented what has 
occurred, but was prevented by an' interference, improper and unwise, to 
say the least of it. He should, therefore, unless gentlemen permitted him a 
fair opportunity of amending the Resolutions, be compelled to vote against 
the motion to postpone indefinitely. 

Mr. Croom. — I should consider myself chargeable with a dereliction of 
he duty I owe that respectable portion of the State, which I have the honor 
to represent, were I to remain silent on the important question now under 
( iscussion. These Resolutions propose, by an expression of the legislative 
v ill, to discountenance the dangerous practice of Caucusing, and to recom- 
v. end that the district mode of electing Electors should become uniform 
('rough out the Union. To bath these propositions I am decidedly friendly. 
An ardent admirer and sincere friend to our free institutions, I shall al* 
ways contribute my best efforts to their preservation, and oppose with ala- 
crity any attempts threatening their existence or purity. The brightest fea- 
ture in our charter of liberty, and one upon yvhich our political fabric is 
mainly based, is the right of free suffrage. Th. t this right becomes important 
as the object for which it is exercised is so, must be conceded. No person 
can then deny, that this rightis m no other instance, of its exercise so valuable, 
;,s in the election of the Chief Magistrate of the Union. Did the venerable 
s ges who framed our Constitution view the subject in this light ? That 
they did, no one can doubt, who will bestow a moment's reiiection on the 
anxious solicitude which they evinced to guard the purity of the Presiden- 
tial election, whether tnreatened by aspiring demagogues at home, or by self- 
ish and corrupt intriguers from abroad. If there be. any one part of our 



CAUCUS DEBATE. 33 

Constitution on which iis frame^s bestowed greaW consideration than on 

•any other, it is that part Which secures thtfoarify of t&e eection of our 
Chief Magistrate. The happy plan devised, shevvs at once their wisdom 
and the success of their labours. There were two prominent evils appre- 
hended, and against which they were to guard.. The one was the tumult, 
passion and disorder, incident to all large assemblies ; tire other, the ca- 
bals, intrigue and corruption, to which all pre-existing bodies are exposed. 
The plan devised and incorporated into our Constitution, ^happily avoids 
both these evils. Our Electoral College assembles in detached and small 
bodies, and has bat a brief existence. But to froth these objections is CTon- 
gfess, as an electing bydy, liable. It is a fanre and pre-orgaj "'e.d body. 
We are told, however, that members of Congress are aot bhe Elector's of 
the President. Let gentfemen, however, look at the fact, and candour will 
oblige them to admit, that according to the Caucus plan, ihe members of 
Congress virtually elect the President of the United States. Their nomi- 
nation is, in effect, a dictation. This ought not f " be so. It is an unholy 
usurpation of power not delegate:! bv the Constitution and exposes us, in 
the choice of a Chief Magistrate, to all the pvrls. against which ihe framers 
of our Constitution designed to secure us. I consider the Caucus meetings 
held at the Uity of Washington, f>r rht purpose of nominating a candidate 
to till the office of President of these United States, as unconstitutional, an- 
ti-republican, dangerous to liberty, and Operating injustice to the rights' of 
the small States, tticonstitutional, because the members of diose meetings 
practically transcend their constitutional powers ; anti-republican, because 
they are calculated to rear up a political Aristocracy, and thereby vest in he 
few tnat power whidi belongs to the many; dangenaas to iibertv, because 
they are, in truth, an usurpation of some of the dearest rights of freemen : 
and injurious to the rights of the small States, because they are thus de- 
prived of the chance which the Constitution guarantees to them of having 
an equal voice with the large States in the election of a President, whene- 
ver the choice devolves upon Congress. These positions, if not self-evi- 
dent, have been so ably established by my honorable friend from Rowan, 
th/.t it woul'd be superogatOry for me to dwell longer upon them. We 
have been told by the gentleman ff'oiri Beaufort, that ihe.;e IMsolu'tiohs 
were introduced with a view to the Presidential question:- Sir, tomymincfc 
/ it seems disingenuous, when propositions are before this House, stamped 
with public good, capable of bearing the test of ages, arid divested of every 
local, temporary of party feature, to endeavour to excite the prejudices, 
and blind the understandings of those to whose consideration they are sub- 
mitted. Do these Resolutions wear any thing ol this kind on their facer 
They exhibit the fair aspect of Republicanism ; they are politic and ought 
to be adopted, Bat gentlemen object to a principle contained in these Reso- 
lutions, the rio-ht of the constituent to instruct his Representative. They 
nave been repeatedly told by the friends of the bill, that if an opportunity 
were given, they would willingly put them in such a shape as to render 
them unexeeptiomibie in this respect. This liberty, however, has bee i de- 
nied them. ' I sincerely hope that a majority ot this House will aftovd an 
ppuortuaity so to amend the Resolutions as to make them an expr, sion of 
the will of the Legislature, as i Believe such an expression would have a 
direct tendency to put down the practice of which we complain. 



36 9AttCU8 DEBATE. 

The gentleman from' Caswell, gravely tells us, that though members of 
Congress ore prohibited to be Electors, yet that should not prevent them 
from meeting in their private capacity, to recommend some suitable person 
fof the Presidency. Sir, no one who has observed t\\e effect of such recom- 
mendations can deny but they are in truth dictations. In what instance, I 
would ask, lias the recommendation of a man to this office failed to insure 
his election ? I have no doubt but members of Congress, through the instru- 
mentality of Caucuses, do indirectly, what the Constitution prohibits them to 
do directly — -not merely designate, but make the President. Again we are 
fold, tln:t a Caucus is necessary to keep the dominant party in power. Sir, 
it is well known that at present there is but one party in the United States 
— all are friends of the present administration. If any parties do exist, 
they are but in embryo, and have been produced by the conflicting claims to 
the Presidency. It cannot be said that there is, at this time, any dominant 
party. But if there were such a party, shall we adopt a principle, which 
clothes wiih authority a body of men, in open and manifest violation of the 
genius of our Constitution ? Let me further ask, if it has always happened, 
that the interests of the dominant party is identified with that of Republics ? 
History teaches us such parties have often proved the bane of free govern? 
me its. Often, under the specious pretext of promoting public good, have 
thev abused their power to secure self-aggrandizement. Until, therefore, 
it is shewn, that there is a dominant party, and that the interest of that 
party is the same with the interest of the government, it is believed that 
this argument of gentlemen can aVai! them nothing. It has been said, by 
ixij worthy friend from Beaufort, that opinions of eminent men against Cau- 
cuses are not to be regarded °, but I trust, that this House will respect such 
opinions on this as well as on other subjects. The father of his country has 
said " that all combinations of individuals for the purpose of controlling or 
influencing the free exercise of Constitutional rights or powers, are seriously 
to be deprecated." Here is a direct and unequivocal condemnation of Cau- 
cusing by the greatest Patriot and Statesman of any age. 

Gentlemen say, that we are unnecessarily consuming the time of the 
House by this discussion. Sir, in my humble opinion, the time of this- 
House could not be better employed, than in discussing a question 
of such vital importance to trie welfare of our constituents. It is of more 
importance to the good of our State, to put down Caucuses, than to restore 
to credit rogues and swindlers. The gentleman from Caswell informs us, 
that a Caucus nomination has no binding influence. This is really new. 
I believe however, it will not be found correct in fact ; as no one can say, that 
such a nomination has not the same eifect as if it were obligatory. What 
is the practice ? Members of Congress go into Caucus and nominate their 
candidate* The members of the State Legislatures then go into Caucus, 
form an Electoral ticket, and recommend the Caucus Candidate and the 
Caucus ticket to the support of the people, which proceedings produce the 
same, result, as if they were sanctioned by the Constitution. And thus, 
Sir, are the freemen of this country ingeniously divested of a most sacred 
and invaluable privilege. We contend that members of Congress have no 
right to form a Caucus for the purpose of influencing the Presidential elec- 
tion ; because they are elected for an entirely different purpose. When 
they act in any other capacity than as Legislators, they transgress their 



CAUCUS DEBATE. S'7 

Constitutional powers. When they do it with a view of influencing the 
election of the P]xecutive, they encourage an union of the distinct Ogt 
partraents of the government, which, if effected, would produce tjranjjy 
and anarchy.— Members of Congress are moreover exposed to the impro- 
per influence of the Candidates who will generally be at the Seat of Go- 
vernment, and it woukl be saying too much for human nature to assert* 
that these Candidates, will not frequently use every means to promote their 
ambitious views. We have been told, that it would be improper to adopt 
these Resolutions, because one of our Senators is too venerable and virtu* 
ops to be instructed by this body. In this country. Sir, we should gever 
allow the creature to be esteemed greater than the Creator. But if a!' our 
delegation were like the Gentleman alluded to, it would be useless to pass 
these Resolutions, as it is well known he never attends Caucus meetings. 
Others of our Representatives, it is to be feared, have not the same scruples* 
The Legislature of Tennessee has been referred to, as having recently passed 
similar Resolutions. An attempt is made to impair the force of this exa m pie, 
and how? By saying that Tennessee has eternally disgraced herself by refusing 
to the citizens of North-Carolina the right to sue for lands in her Courts — 
We are told, that this one act soirretrievably darkens her character, that she 
is a stigma on the house from which she sprung. Sir, with this blot on her 
escutcheon, we have cause to be proud of our offspring. The citizens of 
Tennessee are high-minded, intelligent and enterprising. They are distin- 
guished in the field and in the Cab it. Her sons have displayed acts of 
gallantry and noble daring which would do honor to the proudest nation 
of the earth. Let then, the example of Tennessee have its full weight. 
Aware that I shall be followed by gentlemen who are more competent than 
myself to do justice to this important subject, I will not trespass any lon- 
ger on the patience of this honorable body— I hope the Resolutions will not 
be indefinitely postponed. 

Mr. J. F. Taylor, next rose ; and we are sorry that though we had hand- 
ed him our notes for the purpose, the pressing engagements of this gentle- 
man have prevented him from writing us a correct copy of his Speech on 
this occasion. We are, under the necessity of giving to our readers such 
a sketch of his remarks as we are now able to make out. 

Mr. T. commenced by justifying the motion under consideration, which, 
by its opponents, had been called illiberal and unparliamentary. He con- 
tended that it was right for those members who thought it improper to pass 
any resolution like the present, to move an indefinite postponement of the 
question, by way of trying the principle ; for if a majority of the house 
should prove to be of this opinion, it would save the time which would be 
consumed in attempting to amend the proposition. 

Are we prepared, asked Mr. T. to assume a power which we are un- 
willing to allow to our Members in Congress, by giving to them in- 
structions how to act, though we deny their right to meet together, and 
to give us any information on the subject of the Presidential Election ? Gen- 
tlemen had gone so far indeed, as to say, that it is unconstitutional for 
Members of Congress to express an opinion on this subject, though he knew 
of no article in the .'onstitution that gave any countenance to such an opin- 
ion. It is true, that Members of Congress are prohibited from being Elec- 



38 CAUCUS DEBATE. 

tors ; but. they are surely as much at liberty to give their opinions in favor 
of this or that candidate for the Presidency, as any ether of ojur fellow-ci- 
tizens. 

It is given as a reason why Members of Congress ought not to interfere 
with the election of the President, that the Executive and Legislative De- 
partments should always be kepi distinct. But does the expression of an 
opinion by Members of Congress of the fitness of a candidate for the Presi- 
dency, bring these two powers in contact? Do we not even elect our Go- 
vernor, and jet our Legislature is not charged with an improper interfer- 
ence with the Executive branch of the Government. 

It is said, that, if the recommendation of a Caucus has no effect on the 
election, it is uselsss ? and if it has an effect, then the Members of Congress 
elect the President. This is surely not the case ; it is merely a recommen- 
dation, which will receive so wore attention than it deserves. 

It is true, that those who nominate a man for office, give their aid and 
assistance, in electing him j but if the nomination be not agreeable to the 
people, it will by them be discountenanced, and will not prevail. And 
Members of Congress knowing this, no man will ever be nominated at 
Washing-ton, who is not esteemed the most popular man in the country. 
But if no recommendation be made, the people will be at a loss to know 
who is the most fit man for the office, and will be liable to be misled by 
men who wish to promote their favorites i:; different sections of the Union, 
and the votes of the people being thus divided, no election will ever be made 
by them. And said Mr. T. the true reason of the opposition made to a Con- 
gressional nomination is, that gentlemen are apprehensive that the man whom 
they wish to elevate to the Presidency, will not be the man who would be re- 
commended from Washington. This is the course taken by all minorities ; 
who know, that to divide the force ef the majority, is the only chance they 
have to succeed. 

i ; .;r. T. could see no constitutional objection to the usual nomination 
made at Washington, by men who were responsible for their conduct, and 
who had the best opportunities of judging of the qualificai tons of the sever- 
al candidates held up to public notice. But the gentleman from llovvvn 
says it is bad policy, as it exposes Members of Congress who meet in Cau- 
cus to the influence of corruption ; but, said Mr. T. if any fears are en- 
tertained on this head, they ought to operate with much more force in pre- 
venting the chance of the election being finally decided by (he House of 
Representatives, where each State gives but one vote, where a small State ^ 
has therefore as much weight as a large one, and where a few men have the 
power of deciding the important question of who shall be President of the 
United States. 

To nominate a suitable person as a candidate for the Presidency in any 
meeting of members of Congress, requires a majority of the whole number 
present ; but thirty -one members, in the last resort, have the powerto.eleet 
a President. Formerly, when there were only two candidates for. the Pre- 
sidency, a nomination at Washington was less necessary than at present, 
wi en five candidates are before the public : as, with this number, except 
such a recommendation be made, an election by the people cannot be ex- 
pected. And surely when the scenes are recollected winch took place in 
the House of Representatives ai the. first election of Mr. Jefferson — when 
Mr. Burr, though he had not received a single vote for the Presidency, came 



/ 

CAUCUS DEBATE. 89 

near to being elaoted over M¥: Jefferson, though he alone had b?en sup- 
ported by the people as President, no one can desire to see the election of 
this important ofl5eer*ogairi placed in such circumstances. 

A good deal had been said about members of Congress usurping power 
in making this nomination. This, he said, was a tender point. It might 
be doubted whether the members of this house were performing their legi- 
timate duty in fif;am'ir*g instructions for the conduct of our members in 
Congress. Our constituents, when they elected us to make laws for them, 
did not expect we would thus employ our time. But puffed up with, a lit- 
tle brief authority, we meddle with things which do not belong to us, and, 
in the same breath, complain of our members of Congress in this respect. 

Some authorities had been produced on this occasion, which he thought 
eia i led to but little weight. Mr. Grundy's Resolutions passed by the Legis- 
lature of Tennessee had been mentioned. Mr. Grundy, in these resolutions, 
speaks of a Congressional Caucus as unconstitutional ; and yet this gentle- 
man when in Congress, attended these meetings, so that he acknowledges 
he thus violated the oath which lie had taken to support the Constitution ; 
and yet we are called upon to take hitri as an example. The gentleman 
from Rowan had told the house that he, when in Congress, did not attend 
a caucus ; but if the gentleman disapproved the meeting, why did he not 
then, as now, lift up his voice against it. If he had then believed the mea- 
sure unconstitutional, he had too high a respect for him to believe he would 
not have made known his opin. n to his constituents on the subject. 

The gentleman from Rowan, in conclusion, warned members aaainst 
voting for the present motion, if thev wished to maintain their popularity 
at home, stating, that he had travelled over many parts of the State, and 
had found the people every whefe opposed to a Caucus nomination. If the 
gentleman supposed that members could be i duced to vote against their 
convictions of right, from personal considerations, he would find himself 
mistaken. He had no doubt that much pains had been taken, by that gen- 
tleman and others to defeat the good old course of a Republican nomination, 
but he trusted that all their efforts would be in vain. 

Mr. Iredell said, that until a late period of the Debate, he had intend- 
ed to take no part in the discussion of these Resolutions. The reasons which 
produced this determination, and those which had subsequently induced 
him to. change it, it was alike unnecessary to state to the House. He would 
say, however, that he had been in some measure urged to the iatter course 
by what he conceived to be the unfair manner in which these Resolutions 
had been treated by their opponents. When they were called up for dis- 
cussion, the gentleman who introduced them, expressed his desire to amend 
them, by striking out the most exceptionable parts, and giving them such 
a form, as would bring before the Mouse, simply and distinctly, the main 
question they were designed to present. All attempts at amendment, how~ 
ever had been precluded by the motion for indefinite postponements which 
had been made and persisted in by the gentlemen on the other side. And 
in the debate on this motion, while they deny all opportunity of. striking 
out the parts admitted to be objectionable, they found their principal and 
certainly, their most solid arguments against tbe Resolutions on those very 
features. I do not say, Mr. Speaker, (said Mr. I.) that this course is incon- 
sistent with parliamentary rules, but. with all the respect 1 sincerely en- 



4© CAUCUS DEBATE. 

tertain Tor the gentlemen who have adopted it, I must think it is not con- 
sistent with that candor and urbanity which should distinguish our legis- 
lative proceedings. I admit, sir, that when a Bill or Resolution contains 
btit r '<e distinct principle, a motion of this kind is usual, and is perfectly 
correct ; but when two or more principles are involved in the same question, 
ar che mover wishes to amend his proposition so as to bring one only be- 
fore the House, it does not seem to roe quite fair to deny the opportunity 
of resenting this principle alone, unincumbered with extraneous matter. 
If the ouestion were now, sir, on the passage of these Resolutions as they 
stand, however 'strongly I approve of their main object, I should be com- 
pelled to vote against them myself, because there are some parts of the Pre- 
amble which I do not approve, and because they contain a principle to 
which I have never been able to bring myself to assent ; I mean, the right 
of this Legislature to instruct our Senators and Representatives in Con- 
gress. But I shall vote against the postponement, in order that such a- 
mendments may be made as shall enable me most cheerfully to lend them 
my support Arid, sir, I can assure the gentlemen, if this motion for inde- 
finite postponement shall prevail, that a Resolution on the same subject, in 
a less objectionable shape, shall still be brought before the House. This 
kind of special pleading in legislation shall not avail them. The main ques- 
tion shall not be evaded. Those who are opposed to Caucus nominations, 
but disapprove of the present Resolutions, shall be afforded an opportunity 
of fairly expressing their opinions — and none shall be able to sav, when ren- 
dering an account to their constituents, that they disapproved of Caucuses, 
but voted against these Resolutions on other grounds. 

If, Mr. Speaker, I felt unwilling to intrude myself on the attention of 
the House in the discussion of the principal subject involved in these Reso- 
iutioas, it did not proceed from any >.:oubt as to its importance. I do be- 
lieve the question now presented, to be one of high importance to the sta- 
bility and purity of our Republican Institutions. Sir, let gentlemen dis- 
guise it as they will, let them cover it with as thick a veil of sophistry as 
they can, it is still a question between those who advocate the rights of the 
people, and those who believe the people incapable of exercising the most 
important of those rights. For, sir, if gentlemen say, as thev do on this 
floor, that a Congressional Caucus. is necessary to ensure a wise and pru- 
dent "choice of a President, is it not declaring to the people, you are incapa- 
ble of making this choice yourselves. We will therefore have a meeting of 
your Members of Congress to make it for you. Gentlemen may not choose 
openly to avow this doctrine ; but, in my opinion, it is the inevitable result 
of their arguments in favor of a Caucus. Ii it is admitted that the people 
are competent of themselves, to exercise the power of election, why should 
they not be left to" exercise it in the most free and unbiased manner ? — • 
Mr. I. here referred to the parts of the Constitution of the U. S. which re- 
late to the election of President and Vice-President, and insisted that ac- 
cording to its true intent, the right of election was vested in the first in- 
stance in the people — and though m the event of no person having a majori- 
ty, the choice devolved on the House of Representatives, yet they were 
restricted to the three candidates who had received the highest number of 
votes. The House of Representatives thus restricted, could scarcely make 
a bad choice, or one much at variance with the wishes of a majority of the 
people. 



CAUCUS DEBATE. 41 

It has been urged, Sir, (said Mr. I.) by the opponents of the Resolutions, 
that a Congressional Nomination of President and Vice-President, is not 
forbidden by the Constitution, and we have been called upon by the Gen- 
tleman from Wake, with an air of triumph, to lay our finger on the clause 
of the Constitution which contains such a prohibition, t, sir, for one do 
not say, that there is any clause containing such express prohibition. But* 
Sir, Qui ticeret in litera, hoe ret in corticp. I contend, that such a practice 
as these resolutions profess to condemn, is directly at war with the spirit 
and intention of the Constitution. I refer gentlemen to that excellent 
commentary on the Constitution, the Federalist, a work which is now the 
text book of all statesmen. I refer them to that (for I have not the book 
here to quote) for the reasons which induced the Convention to adopt the 
present mode of electing the Executive, and the objections which present- 
ed themselves against any other mode of appointment. They wished above 
all things to keep this election pure ; and they feared if it was entrusted 
to any pre-existing body, that body would be liable to be assailed by all the 
means of intrigue and corruption, which the prospect of so splendid and 
valuable a prize would tempt^he ambitious aspirants and their warm par- 
tizans to employ. Gentlemen must wish for a Congressional nomination, 
because they believe it will ha-ve samp influence in the election — otherwise 
it is perfectly nugatory. Now, Sir, this influence may be greater or less, 
but just in proportion to its extent and power, in the same proportion will 
the reasons which induced the frame rs of our Constitution to withhold 
from any pre-existing body the appointment of the Executive, apply to a 
Congressional nomination with greater or less force — just in the same pro- 
portion will such a nomination be more or less at variance with the spirit 
of the Constitution. But gentlemen say, this power is necessary — that 
without it the people will be distracted, and will not know how to make a 
choice. If it is so, Sir, it the machinery of our Government cannot pro- 
ceed without it, let it be engrafted into our Constitution. If it must be a 
part of our political system in practice, let it be so too in theory — let it be in- 
serted in our great political charter — let us know the form of government 
under which we live. Sir, I put Gentlemen to the test — Is there one in 
this House, is there one within the hearing of my voice, who would have 
the hardihood to propose as an amendment to the Constitution, that the 
members of Congress in Caucus assembled, should have the power of no- 
minating the President and Vice-President of the United States, and that 
no election should take place without such nomination. I challenge the 
most zealous of the new converts to the caucus system, to propose such an 
amendment. Sir, they dare not do it. They know that the frowns of an in- 
dignant people would put them down. And why attempt to seize by artifice, 
by subtlety, a power which they dare not openly ask for ? But it is said, 
the Members do not meet in Caucus, as Members of Congress, but as in- 
dividuals. Mr. Speaker, I ask, in the name of common sense, if this can 
make any real difference ? The Members of Congress are excluded from 
electing in the first instance, because they are a body of men in existence some- 
time before the election, and therefore liable to be tampered with ? If their 
nomination is to have a powerful, an overbearing influence on the election, 
is there not as great danger of their integrity being expose ' to temptation ? 
Thev meet in Caucus because they are members of Congress— thev meet 

6 



42 CAUCUS DEBATE. 

therefore in virtue of thai office — they are the same individuals who compose 
the Congress. Can it make any real difference as to the danger to our liber- 
ties, as to their exposure to intrigue, and corruption, whether they meet in 
one room or another | whether they clothe their proceedings with Legis- 
lative forms or not ; whether Mr. Clay presides over them as Speaker, or 
some other Member as Chairman ? They are still the same body of men 
whom the Constitution has excluded from the election in the first instance, 
to whom, from their political situation and their pre-existence as a body, 
it was thought dangerous to intrust such a power. In my opinion, Sir, 
the distinction exists merely in name and appearance' — it has no foundation 
in reality. 

Again, sir, it is said the nomination by members of Congress is but a re- 
commendation, and can have no binding influence on the people. Mr. 
Speaker, I detest all mere verbal distinctions — Let us goto the substance. 
And I appeal to the candor of the gentlemen on the other side, whether 
they do not believe such a nomination will have a great and important in- 
fluence on the election ? Whether it would not have the effect of procur- 
ing a majority for the person so nominated, when without it, such majority 
could not be obtained ? Whether they do not expect such a result from a 
caucus nomination, and whether that is not the reason why they so stre- 
nuously advocate one ? Sir, I know they must answer in the affirmative. 
Indeed, sir, the gentleman from Wake has told us, (though I disclaim 
the application of the remark to myself) that this question is only a struggle 
between the friends of the different candidates — that he is anxious for a 
caucus, because he believes his favorite candidate has a majority ? Does 
he mean a majority of the people ? No, sir ; for if he did, he could not be 
t«o anxious for a caucus. If his candidate has a majority of the people al- 
ready in his favor, he wants nothing more to ensure his election. A cau- 
cus would be -entirely unnecessary. No, sir, it is because he knows the 
candidate whose cause he espouses has not a majority of the people, and 
believes lie may have a majority in a Congressional caucus, that he is so 
anxious on this subject.- 

Again, Sir, we are told by Gentlemen on the other side, some of whom 
have talked so loudly about Republicanism and Democracy, that if we do 
not permit the Members of Congress to make a nomination, the people are 
so ignorant, they will never be able to select a fit man for President. Mr. 
Speaker, I have ever been the friend of the people, but never their flatterer. 
I have never deceived them by caresses, nor courted them for popularity. 
But I am, and always have been, the advocate of their just rights — more 
especially of the rights secured to'them by the Constitution andlawsofthe 
country. Sir, it is a sufficient answer to this objection of incompetency, 
to say, the onstitution has thought them competent and has entrusted 
them with the power, and it was done so for the wisest reasons. The fra- 
mers of that instrument knew that there would, at ail times be indivi- 
duals in the community gifted with higher talents and possessing more in- 
telligence than the great mass of the people, but they knew too, that 
while a few men might be seduced, the people were incorruptible. The 
power exercised oy them would be exercised in purity. But, Sir, I deny 
the proposition of the Gentlemen. The great bo iy of the people are not 
•?nh r incorruptible— tuey are intelligent. They are capable of deciding fot; 



CAUCUS DEBATE. 43 

themselves among the candidates for the Chief Magistracy. The Gentle- 
men ask, how are the people to obtain the necessary information? they 
have no personal acquaintance with the candidates, and must therefore be 
governed either by the opinions of newspaper Editors, - or the recommenda- 
tion of Members of Congress. Sir, do the Gentlemen really think, that 
a personal acquaintance is absolutely necessary to enable us to judge of the 
merits of the individual presented to our choice ? Is his fitness for this 
high office to be estimated by his personal appearance, his graceful carriage, 
his colloquial powers, or his agreeable and insinuating manners ? No, Sir, 
I can tell the gentlemen of another source, from which, in my apprehension, 
the information to guide us on this subject should be derived— the source 
from which I have formed my opinion — a source which is equally open and 
equally accessible to the whole community. It is the history — the public re- 
cords of our country. Here you can find the proofs of the pure and elevat- 
ed patriotism, of the devotion to his country's cause, of the correct political 
sentiments, of the firmness and independence of character, of the highly gift- 
ed mind and the eminent public services which should alone entitle, an in- 
dividual to the highest political honor which one man can receive from 
his iellow-men. lie who cannot appeal to public testimonials of his super 
rior merits, who cannot produce these passports to office, may, it is true, 
Sir, attach to himself a number of warm partisans, forming their predi- 
lection from their personal acquaintancaamd intimate association with him, 
and by their means may possibly secure a majority in a Congressional 
Caucus. But such a man ought never to present a cjaim for the highest 
office in the nation. Such a man, unless assisted by a < aucu?, can ne- 
ver receive the votes of an enlightened people. If the candidates have 
been in public life (and none other will ever presume to aspire to this office) 
the people will enquire, and the means of ascertaining are open to them, 
what have been their public services, and what eminent talents have 
they exhibited ? [f the people are left unbiased by unauthorized associa- 
tions bearing with them the stamp of official influence, this is the criteri- 
on to which they will bring all the candidates — a criterion on which they 
are as capable of deciding as the members of Congress. 

Gentlemen have urged another argument in favor of a Caucus, that it 
will prevent the election from going to the House of Representatives. 1 
ask Gentlemen to reflect if this is correct, if it is strictly honest ? The 
Constitution has provided that, in the event of a majority of the electors not 
agreeing upon a President and Vice-President, the choice shall devolve on 
the House of Representatives, where each State will be entitled to one vote. 
This provision was the result of compromise, of that system of mutual 
concessions between the large and small States on which our Constitution 
was founded. I admit, sir, that in this particular an undue influence is gi- 
ven to the smail states,- but they have given an equivalent for it to the 
large states, in yielding to them in other respects, a greater share of power, 
lit is a bargain — a contract between the large and sufali states. Is it just 
in us, while we continue to enjoy the equivalent, toxleprive them of the pri- 
vileges for which it was rendered ? Is it honest in us, Sir, while we . 
avmi ourselves of all the advantages secured to us by the contract, to evade 
the performance of the part made for their benefit, because we may think it 
presses rather hardly upon us ? Is it right, sworn as we are to support 



44 CAUCUS DEBATE. 

the whole Constitution, to endeavor by indirect means to defeat any of 
its provisions ? If this provision is unjust, or impolitic, it is in the power 
of the nation to strike it out ; but while it exists, we are as much bound, 
as patriots and as honest men, to support it in its true spirit, as we are any 
other parts of the constitution which may be more agreeable to our inte- 
rests. 

But, sir, we are warned to take can?, lest, while we are charging 
members of Congress with an assumption of power, we should ourselves 
transgress our legitimate and prescribed bounds, by expressing an opinion 
on this subject. On this part of the argument, Mr. Speaker, I will 
only refer gentlemen to the practice not only of this Legislature, but I 
believe, of every Legislature in the Union since the foundation of our go- 
vernment Have they not repeatedly expressed opinions on important pub- 
lic subjects, which did riot come immediately within the sphere, of their le- 
gislative functions? (Mr. I here mentioned some instances of this kind.) 
And, sir, if we believe the practice, which these resolutions profess to 
condemn, to be a dangerous invasion of the rights of the people — an in- 
. fnrige'raent of the spirit of the Constitution — is it not peculiarly our duty to 
express our opinion, to warn the people of the danger, and to endeavor, 
by denouncing, to suppress it ? 

Mr. Speaker, I ask pardon of the House for having detained them so 
long with these desultory and unpremeditated remarks. I am, sir, no po- 
litical aspirant. I have no hope, if I had any wish, of political prefer- 
ment. I came here with reluctance, and shall rejoice when the day of 
my departure arrives. But, sir, I am one of the people and deeply inter- 
ested in the maintenance of their privileges and their power. In whatever 
situation I may be placed, lam determined, by every effort I can command, 
to oppose any attempted invasion of their rights. They may find, sir, more 
able defenders — but they will never find one more zealous or more faithful. 

Mr. Strange offered as an apology for troubling the House with any 
remarks on the subject now under consideration, the deep interest he felt 
in the disposition the House might make of the Preamble and Resolutions* 
He had hoped they would have disposed of them, while he was necessari- 
lv absent from the service of the House ; in this hope however he had been 
disappointed. He regretted that they had ever been introduced, inasmuch 
as they were calculated to excite angry and malignant passions among 
those who took a part m their discussion, and to scatter fire-brands over 
the political face of the country, without these evils being counterbalanced 
by the prospect of any good result. After the able remarks which had fal- 
len from gentlemen occupying the same side of the question with Mr. S. 
it might be deemed impertinent in him to offer any, inasmuch as he could 
do little more than repeat what had already been said by others. But on 
this occasion, he must claim to himself the full benefit of the maxim, that 
a good thing is none the worse of being twice said. 

He might likewise plead the example of the gentlemen on the other side 
of the question, to whom he had listened with much attention, under the 
expectation of hearing some argument which might shew that the doc- 
trines set forth in the Preamble and Resolutions were tenable. All that 
bad yet fallen from the gentlemen was but a reiteration and, amplification 



CAUCUS DEBATE 45 

of the ideas and sentiments contained in the Preamble and Resolutions 
themselves, so that for all Mr. S. could see, the House would have been 
fully as much enlightened upon this subject, had each of the gentlemen 
who had spoken on the other side, contented himself with reading over to 
the House, in a distinct and audible voice, the Preamble and Resolutions. 
Bwt Mr. S. was very far from attributing this to any want of ability in the 
gentlemen themselves. On the contrary, when he looked to the formida- 
ble array of talent by which the Preamble and Resolutions were supported, 
he confessed he had felt disheartened. He knew full well, that there were 
gentlemen in those ranks who could clothe truth in her loveliest attire, and 
strip falsehood of her borrowed garments ; or, when it suited their pur- 
pose, and the proposition was not too manifestly against them, " make the 
worse appear the better reason." On the present occasion, therefore, he 
felt satisfied, that it was the cause they had espoused which was so sterile 
in argument, and not that the gentlemen possessed not ability to find them 
out, that so few had been offered. 

We have been charged, Mr. Speaker, said Mr. S. with unparliamenta- 
ry conduct, for insisting on our motion for the indefinite postponement of 
the Preamble and Resolutions. It is admitted that our course is not a vio- 
lation of parliamentary rule, but it is asserted that it is a violation of par- 
liamentary decorum. Now, Sir, I confess, that I had always been led 
to believe that parliamentary rules were founded upon the stiictest prin- 
ciples of good manners, and that he who kept within parliamentary 
rule, would be in little danger of violating parliamentary decorum. It 
seems, however, to be one of the misfortunes of disagreement on political 
questions, that things right in themselves become wrong when they may be 
used to defeat any favorite measure, or to shew the fallacy of any favorite 
opinion. 

Mr. S. said he had two objections to the adoption of the Preamble and 
Resolutions. The first was, because he deemed the act itself useless and im- 
proper. The very " head and front" of the evil which these Resolutions 
are designed to remedy, is, that a Caucus is an unauthorized meeting. — - 
That members of Congress are not elected with a view to the part they 
shall take in a Caucus which may be holden during their continuance in 
office, and that, therefore, they are in that respect not the representatives 
of those who elect them. Let this be granted, and what follows ? Is it 
not as representatives alone that the warmest advocates of the right of in- 
struction afiect to instruct ? And it is only in those matters in which one 
represents us, that we can claim any right to instruct him. If, Sir, I em- 
ploy a man to transact any piece of business for me, I have unquestionably 
a right to instruct that man as to the manner in which that particular bu- 
siness is to be performed, but do [therefore acquire a right to instruct him 
in matters exclusively his.o/.vn ? ,or does he not remain entirely free to act 
upon all matters not i^ol^ed in h ^.agency, precisely as he would have 
done hadbe^not L».?oi;iij.pi-mv agent ? ^[Neither, Sir, do Senators and mem- 
bers of Cog^ess become de facto, the slaves of those whom they represent, 
and upon, any act which they do not perform officially, we have no more 
right to { . instruct them than upon th^cylor of their coats, the quality of their 
food, or with whom they shall associate during the hours of relaxation. It 
is true, Sir, we can express our opinions ; but are they bound to respect 



46 CAUCUS DEBATE. 

them ? u We can call spirits from the vasty deep, but will they come- 
when we do call tor them ?" I should fear not, .sir. I should fear our 
Senators and Representatives in Congress would retort upon us our own 
language, and say, Gentlemen, you take too much upon you. But the 
Preamble and Resolutions seem to me to be framed with a view to make 
their own inconsistencies as manifest as possible, and while the one loudly 
and positively disavows the agency of members of Congress in the Caucus 
nomination of the President of the U. States, the other studiously selects the 
very language which could only properly beused when agency exists. Again 
Sir, by passing these Resolutions, we pass a direct censure on almost all 
the great, good, and wise men in the nation, not excluding our own vener- 
able Senator, nor even the present most prominent candidates for the Pre- 
sidency ', for it is to be presumed, if the Congressional Caucus be now the 
monster of iniquity, which this Preamble and Resolutions represent it, it 
could not have been entirely innocent even when attended by Macon, Craw- 
ford, Adams, and Calhoun. And lastly, by adopting the Preamble and 
Resolutions, we place ourselves in the dilemma of condemning that, which 
in the very act of condemnation we are ourselves performing — for no one 
can pretend, that it was for the purpose of passing such Resolutions as 
those now upon your table, that our constituents sent us to this place, and 
thus, while we are ki pulling the mote out of our brother's eye, we see not 
the beam that is in our own eye." 

The second objection which Mr. S. had to adopting the Preamble and 
Resolutions, was, that by so doing, he would be permitting persons to put 
words into his mouth which did not accord with the sentiments of his heart. 
It is true, said Mr. S. that in the mass of obnoxious matter, some princi- 
ples are cunningly and ingeniously inserted to which no one can refuse as- 
sent, as the physician who wishes to administer to his patient some nause- 
©us drug, artfully combines with it some more palatable ingredient ; but 
in the present case, that which is nauseous, so far exceeds in proportion 
that which is palatable, that" 1 am for rejecting the whole dose. If any one 
will be at the trouble of examining the Preamble in detail, he will be sur- 
prised to find, to how small a portion he can yield his assent. To the first 
paragraph I would freely agree that this House should subscribe, did I 
think it necessary that the Legislature of North-Carolina should proclaim, 
to the world its belief that black is not white, or that the plainest proposi- 
tion in nature is true. But upon the second paragraph, (and remember it 
contains the gist of the whole matter) our friends over tne way will excuse 
lis if we do not agree with them : if we do not accept the marrow, until 
they have cracked tiie bone : if we do not admit the dangerous tendency, 
nay the innate' corruption of the Caucus system, until they have proven it 
to us. What, Sir! admit without a seihtiila of proof, that those whom we 
have selected from among us for their 'wisdom ami integrity, are so stupid 
as to be cheated into a nomination decidedly aMih&tne interest of tiie na- 
tion ? Or so corrupt as to he armed toy douceurs or 'promises to bend their 
backs for an unprincipled traitor to mount to honor &e tne expense of the 
happiness of his country? That the people of these United States will so 
far mrget the price which their happv institutions have cost them, as-tame- 
\y to see them bartered away by a contract which requires their ratification 
before it can have any binding efi'ect ? That our political fabric, of whose 



CAUCUS DEBATE. 47 

strength we so often boast, and whose foundations are cemented by the 
blood of our ancestors, can be subverted by a breath ? I confess, Sir, it 
would require a degree of credulity which I trust T neither possess, nor 
wish to possess, to admit positions so revolting to our nest feelingsand our 
best hopes, with no farther proof than has been offered us by the gentlemen 
on the other side. But this, Mr. Speaker, is one among the many cases 
in which the mere application of opprobrious terms, has loaded with dis- 
grace and condemned to ignominy a practice innocent, nay useful in itself. 
"YVe have reason. Sir, however, to rejoice, that it is not evevy one that can 
be thus duped, that even the majority of. mankind, when uninfluenced by 
prejudice, have discernment to see that it is not names which make things 
good or bad, that words are but representations of ideas, that the qualities 
of things reside in the things themselves, and remain essentially the same, 
whatever names may be applied to them ; that calling members of Con- 
gress traitors, does not make them so; and that the lawfulness or unlawfulness 
of a Caucus depends entirely upon the lawfulness or unlawfulness for which it 
isholden. Sometimes a Caucus has been hoiden for the vilest purposes, and 
of course, that particular Caucus deserved the execration of every good 
man. At other times, a Caucus has been hoiden for the best and holiest 
purposes, when surely the mere application of that name could not make 
it criminal. The Caucus principle enters into the most common affairs of 
life, from the most trivial to the most important, whenever a set of indivi- 
duals assemble voluntarily for the purpose of consulting upon matters of 
common interest, it is assuredly a Caucus, and many were the meetings of 
this description which were hoiden before our forefathers achieved their 
independence, and perfected the system of government under which we 
now enjoy so much happinesss and security. The truth is, the best and ho- 
liest things may be converted to the worst of purposes, and no one is igno- 
rant that even that blessed Religion which was designed by its great author for 
the comfort of man in this life and his happiness in the nest, has been convert- 
I ed, by the inquisition of the Romish Church, to one of the most horrid en- 
j gines, to torture and afflict the wretched race of man, that the malignity of 
1 men or of devils could have invented. That any set of men hath a right 
j to assemble and express their opinions upon any question whatsoever, I 
presume no one will deny. That any set of men in the community may, 
if they think proper, nominate the President, no one will deny. Is it, 
then, the respectability of members of Congress, and their means of infor- 
mation that make it wrong in them ? That the respectability of a source 
from which a nomination might come would increase its weight, no one 
will question ; but that it would therefore be more likely to be an errone- 
ous nomination, I confess I am unable to see. 

That a nomination by some person is necessary, I think is very evident. 
The lamented Wm. Lowndes has very happily expressed the sentiments of 
every man of correct feeling, when he said that " the Presidency of the 
United States was an office neither to be sought nor rejected." It seems 
therefore, that no man can with propriety tender his own services ; and 
how can the people, scattered as they are over an almost boundless extent 
of country, be personally acquainted with any one individual whose private 
virtues might command a majority of their suffrages, or unite their votes?, 
unless some person was particularly designated ? And who so well qualified 



48 caucus debate. 

to designate as members of Congress ? The President must necessarily be 
taken from the ranks of public life. And whose eye would be so constantly 
fixed upon him as his associates in public life ? They would be his rivals, 
and would never award to him the meed of preferment, unless his merits 
challenged denial. The man who gets the Caucus nomination in Congress 
will generally stand like Themistocles, who was in the mind of each indi- 
vidual second only to himself. 

In denouncing the Congressional Caucus, its enemies have stated two 
classes of objections. 

First: that such a caucus is unconstitutional, and therefore morally 
wrong, inasmuch as by attending it, members of Congress violate the Con- 
stitution which they have sworn to support. 

Secondly : that a Congressional caucus is impolitic. 

Let us examine each of these classes of objections in detail. The first 
objection of the first class, (which for the sake of perspicuity, we will take 
the liberty of putting into syllogistic form) is as follows: That the Consti- 
tution has prohibited members of Congress from becoming Electors of Pre- 
sident of the U. States. But the members of Congress by nominating in 
caucus, do virtually elect the President of the United States, therefore the 
members of Congress making a caucus nomination of the. President of the 
United States, do violate the Constitution. What a flimsy web of sophis- 
try is this. Archimides boasted that, with a spot whereon to fix his ma- 
chinery, he could move the globe itself j and such is the force of logic, that 
if you grant a man his premises, it is perfectly in his power, with such as- 
sistance, to prove any thing that he may desire. But with all their talent 
for sophistry, the gentlemen on the other side will find it impossible to de- 
monstrate, that nominating is virtually electing, and without this, their whole 
argument falls to the ground ; for be assured, they will find few men in 
possession'of their reason, who will, without such demonstration, concede 
them the point. I have been often told, that there were no two words in 
sfehe English language precisely synonimous ; but according to the new vo- 
cabulary which gentlemen, who contend that election and nomination mean 
the same thing, are about to establish, men have been heretofore greatly 
mistaken upon this point. Do gentlemen pretend that the people are not 
free to ratify or reject the nomination ? or that by the mere fact of nomina- 
tion by the Congressional caucus, the person nominated may forthwith be 
inaugurated President of the United States ? Did the gentleman who the 
other day nominated Governor Holmes to the office he now occupies, vir- 
tually elect him ? It seems his nomination met the approbation of the Legis- 
lature ; but was the Legislature obliged to approve ? And are the people 
farther bound by the Congressional nomination than their respect for the 
opinions of members of Congress, and the coincidence of such opinions 
with their own, binds them ? And to satisfy ourselves that this is the ex- 
tent of the\ obligation, let us ask ourselves the question, if Aaron Burr or 
even De Witt Clinton were to obtain the Caucus nomination, whether such 
a nomination would be ratified by the votes of a majority of the free people 
of these United States ? If not, how can the people be bound by a caucus 
nomination ? But could we so far forget ourselves as to admit that nominat- 
ing is virtually electing, it does not strike me that our ad mission. Would 
avail our adversaries for the purpose they design. It would not then follow 



CAUCUS DEBATE. 49 

that the. members of Congress had violated the letter of the Constitution, and 
it is no part of my political creed that it has a spirit that may be violated. 

The Constitution of the United States is a written bargain or compact, 
entered into between the several States of the Union. Like all other written 
contracts, it is to be construed according to the plain interpretation of the 
language it contains, and no evidence of an intention not to be gathered 
from the face of the instrument itself, is admissible. The term Elector 
used in the Constitution, has a technical signification, and is intended to 
express an office, created by that Constitution, from the exercise of which 
members of Congress are expressly excluded : to give it greater latitude of 
interpretation, would be to exclude members of Congress from voting for 
the President of the United States, directly or indirectly, which cannot be 
supposed to have been its intention. 

But to proceed to the second argument, which is, if possible, still more 
flimsy than the first : 

Thatinasmuch as the Constitution provides, that in the event of no one can- 
didate obtaining a majority of votes in the Electoral College, the election, 
shall be made by the House of Representatives ; and inasmuch as a Con- 
gressional Caucus, would tend to promote an election, and thereby defeat 
the contingent operation of this provision of the Constitution, therefore, 
members of Congress who so lend their assistance to effect an election in 
the Electoral College, do virtually violate the Constitution. This argu- 
ment like the first, is founded upon what I conceive to be the great politi- 
cal error that the Constitution has a spirit which binds beyond its letter, 
and may therefore be violated without violating its letter. But were we 
to admit this to be a political dogma, which we could not contradict, still I 
think, in the present case, it would not avail the gentlemen to the extent 
they calculate. It must be evident to all, that this provision of the Con- 
stitution was intended for a state of things which it was by no means de- 
sirable should exist. It is, as it were, a remedy for a disease to which our 
political Constitution is liable ; but I can see no ground upon which the 
opinion can be founded, that we are bound to stand quietly by with means 
in our hands to prevent the approach of the disease, without using them ; 
unless it be that we may afford an opportunity of shewing to the world what 
admirable political quacks our forefathers were, who could foresee the'oc- 
currence of such a disease, and provide so admirable a prescription for its 
relief. But it is said, ours is a Constitution of compromise, and this fea- 
ture Was intended for the benefit of the smaller States, and that therefore it 
is a violation of good faith for the larger States, to endeavor to prevent the 
occurrence of the contingency upon which the operation of that provision 
will depend. It is only necessary to look to the absurdities into which 
this argument would lead us, to perceive its fallacy. If a man was to a- 
gree to pay another a sum of money, upon his failure to do a certain thing, 
it would be a violation of good faith on his part to endeavor to accomplish 
the proposed undertaking, as he would thereby deprive the other party of 
the sum to which he had a contingent right ; and every man who had on 
any occasion, sworn to support the Constitution of the United States, would 
be restrained under the risk of committing perjury from taking any measure 
to promote an election of President in the Electoral College. 



50 CAUCUS DEBATE, 

The first argument used by our adversaries, on the score of impolicy against 
a Caucus nomination, is, that the House of Representatives, standing in the 
situation of an appellate tribunal, in the event of a failure of the Electoral 
College to elect, it is wrong for its members to prejudge the case by expres- 
sing their opinions and pledging themselves in Caucus. We arc very apt 
to be deceived in argument, by supposing a resemblance where none exists ; 
and the present argument is calculated to deceive us, by calling upon us to 
admit a resemblance between the situation of an appellate Judge, and that 
of the members of the House of Representatives in the case before us. But 
a moment's reflection, Sir, will enable us to percieve there is none. The 
House of Representatives does not not sit an appellate tribunal, to confirm 
or reverse the decision of a former tribunal : the very reason why the ques- 
tion comes into the House of Representatives is, that it has not before been 
decided, and therefore it in no respect resembles an appellate tribunal. 
While upon this part of the subject, sir, I will take the liberty of mention- 
ing some of the reasons which govern me in believing that sound policy dic- 
tates the use of all fair means to keep the election of the President out of 
the House of Representatives. By the plan of Caucus Nomination, the 
people are made acquainted with the opinions of members of Congress, and 
if totally at variance with their own, there is sufficient time for the people 
to exercise their overruling influence; while, if the sentiments of the mem- 
bers of Congress are concealed until the election is entered upon in the 
House of Representatives, the matter is settled, and no power on earth can 
change the result, how much soever it may be at variance with the wishes 
of the mass of the people. By the plan of Caucus Nomination, members 
of Congress only recommend, and the people retain in their own hands the 
great prerogative of election ; by the other plan, the people only recom- 
mend, and the substantial power of deciding is passed over to the House of 
Representatives. 

Upon the score of corruption, about which so much has been said, is 
it not manifest that both the facilities to accomplish, and the inducements 
to attempt, are much greater in the House of Representatives, sitting as 
the elective body, than among the members of Congress, sitting as a Cau- 
cus ? In the one case, there are only the members of the House of Re- 
presentatives to corrupt j in the other, _the Senators must be corrupted 
likewise. In the one case, the unprincipled aspirant after office, knows 
that the man whom he has corrupted can render him real service, and give- 
him actual support, by his own vote ; and if he succeeds in corrupting a major- 
ity, he is sure of obtaining the benefit of his unrighteous bargain ; but, in 
the other case, should he even succeed in corrupting a majority of the Se- 
nators and Members of Congress, he has still to undergo an investigation 
of his merits before the people ; and there are many chances to one, that 
the infamous traflick in which he has been engaged will be exposed, and 
so far from succeeding in grasping the honors after which he has been 
reaching, he will, in addition to a failure in his object, have the mortifica- 
tion of beholding his reputation shipwrecked, and his fortune ruined by the 
base means to which he has resorted. The second ground upon which the 
gentlemen over the way contend that a Caucus Nomination is impolitic, 
is, that members of Congress not being elected with that view, are unac- 
quainted with the sentiments of the people, upon the relative merits of t&c 



CAUCWS DEBATE. 51 

candidates for the Presidency. This objection, to say the leastof if, hangs 
with at least as much weight upon the favorite plan of election by the 
House of Representatives, as it does upon the plan of Caucus Nomination: 
for, if members of Congress be not elected with a view to the Presiden- 
tial Election, they stand equally uninstructed whether they meet to elect 
in the House of Representatives, or to nominate- in Caucus. But the 
truth is, they meet in Caucus for the purpose of conferring together, there- 
by to ascertain what man in the community they can with most propriety 
recommend to the people as possessing the qualifications they desire. — 
It is, therefore, necessary, that they should agree both upon what those 
qualifications are, and who it is that possesses them. This they cannot do- 
without being in some way acquainted with the sentiments of the peo- 
ple, and the alleged uniformity of correspondence between the result and 
the Caucus Nomination, proves nothing more than that the members of the 
Caucus havehitherto acted with fidelity and discernment in representing the 
views of their constituents upon the Presidential question. 

A third objection to the practice of Caucusing, is, that in time it will be- 
come a custom and obtain the sanctity of a law. The weight of this objec- 
tion must depend entirely upon the weight of those with which it is as- 
sociated. If a practice be bad in itself, it certainly is a good reason for has- 
tening proper checks \ that there is danger of time so strengthening it as 
to preclude all hopes of its destruction. On the other hand, if a practice 
be good in itself, its becoming firmly established and growing into custom, 
cannot make it evil. If the custom under discussion be unconstitutional, 
wfeile the constitution remains unaltered, unconstitutional it will remain, 
And here I would reply to a question which is so triumphantly asked us, 
viz,, if the practice be right in itself, why we do not propose that the 
constitution be so amended as to authorise it ? We answer, believing that 
the constitution does not prohibit it, we think it no more necessary, so to al- 
ter the constitution as to expressly authorise it, than we do, so to alter the 
constitution as expressly to authorise any other lawful act. And that, on 
the other hand, if gentlemen think the practice pernicious or impolitic, it 
is for them to propose such an amendment as will bring it under the ban 
of the constitution. For ourselves, we are contented that matters should 
remain as they are, satisfied that the practice under discussion is neither 
malum prohibitum, nor malum in se. 

The last objection, which is more properly a rebutter to what our ad- 
versaries fee! to be the most powerful argument in favor of a Congressional 
Caucus, is, that if a Caucus is ever politic, it is when there is a contest be- 
tween parties, about some great political principle : but that on thepresent 
occasion, it cannot be justified even upon that ground, inasmuch as the pre- 
sent candidates all belong to the same political family, and hold the same 
political tenets. And that in truth, and in fact, an amalgamation of par- 
ties has taken place by mutual concession. — But do we not perceive, Sir, 
that this is the time, when, if at any, a caucus is not only justifiable, but ne- 
cessary ? — It is not true, Sir, that there is an amalgamation of parties. — 
York and Lancaster still wear their roses, although they may be greatly 
withered. Party feelings, like embers covered with ashes, only slumber 
until they are supplied with such fuel to feed upon as this very question 
is likely to .supply. Who ever heard that division promoted strength ? 



52 CAUCUS DEBATE. 

And who does not know that the federal party are in possession of men 
of talents sufficient to lead them with some chance of success against the re- 
publican party, dismembered as it is ? Already have the trumpets sound- 
ed to announce the approach of their mighty champion, a man who stands 
second to none of his age in point of talents, and who all admit to be a fa- 
vored Son of Nature, whatever difference of opinion there may be concern- 
ing his political integrity ; I mean, Sir, De Witt Clinton. Nor will his par- 
ty be wanting m address to bring him forward under the most advantageous 
circumstances. Look to their argument upon the question now under dis- 
cussion — that it is a contest between the friends and enemies of the people's 
rights, and they vauntingly proclaim that they now stand forth in defence of 
those rights. But, Sir, we know, and we trust that the people know too, 
that they want no champion of their rights, they have might residingin their 
own arm tojvhich no power on earth can add — they can, at any moment, 
rise in their energy and take from us the little delegated power with which 
they have entrusted us : how, then, is it in our power to bestow any thing 
upon them? No, sir, this truly is a contest of parties, although gentlemen 
disavow it. ; but it is not one of our seeking, and in vain do gentlemen ac- 
cuse us of raising the stale crv of party. Can any person believe otherwise, 
than that these Resolutions were introduced for the express purpose of af- 
fecting the Presidential Election j and that every member in this House 
will vote upon them in precise conformity to his views upon the Presiden- 
tial question ? Can we,- then, be blamed for proclaiming to our political 
friends, our belief as to the object of these Resolutions, and that when a blow 
is aimed at us, we should be censured for endeavouring to collect our ener- 
gies to meet it? For my own part, Sir, I view this Preamble and Resolu- 
tions as a touchstone, and I feel a pride in saying, that I am not afraid to 
meet it. I am in favor of William H. Crawford as President of the United 
States, not because he will then have offices to bestow : my situation in 
life, Sir, is too humble to have any bias in favor of either of the gentlemen 
upon that ground : nor yet because he is a Virginian. Itis true, Sir, if the 
Chinese Wall which has been spoken of had been erected ten years ago, I 
liad not been here, it is true, Sir, that 

" I'm not the wretch with soul so dead 
" Who never to himself hath said, 
" This is my own, my native land." 

It is true, that I feel a pride in having been born in the same state with 
a Washington and a Jefferson — but dear as Virginia is to me, North- Caro- 
lina is still dearer. Virginia was my birth-place, and contains the bones 
of a few of my ancestors. North-Carolina supports me, and contains the 
living objects of my tenderest affections. While Virginia is pursuing a 
correct course of policy, I feel no desire that North-Carolina should 
adopt a different one ; but, if I know myself, whenever Virginia wanders 
from the path of rectitude, I shall be as ready as any one to do all in 
my power to prevent her being followed by North-Carolina. Neither is 
it, therefore, because Virginia is in favor of Mr. Crawford's election, that 
I would have North-Carolina to support him ; but it is because I believe 
he will tread more closely than any other candidate spoken of in the foot- 
steps of that venerable patriot and statesman, who has so eminently con- 



OAUCUS DEBATE. S§ 

tributed to raise our nation to its present glory and happiness, who now, 
bending beneath the weight of years, must ere long De tyken from us, 
leaving us his precepts and examples to follow, his memory to love and ve- 
nerate. 

With these views and feelings, the House cannot be surprised that 1 
should see no reason at this time for abandoning a plan which has hitherto 
been attended with the most advantageous results. It is said, it is not a 
Republican measure ; true, I have understood that the caucus plan was an 
invention of the Federal party to advance their own political views ; and 
that,, like the Elephant of Pvrrhus, King of Epirus, it has proved most 
disadvantageous to those who brought it into action ; but in its use, "we 
but return the ingredients of their poisoned chalice to their own lips,"' and 
neither justice nor morality requires that we should cease to use the sword 
which we have wrested from our adversaries, to defend ourselves against 
thei. aggressions. 

The caucus system has been hitherto useful to this country.; that it has 
occasionally been resor'ed to for many years past, there can be no doubt ; 
that like every thing else in the hands of fallible beings, it is liable to 
abuse, no one can deny. But with the confidence I possess in the collect- 
ive wisdom, and the individual integrity of those who usually represent 
us in the Congress of the United States, my fears do not disturb my quiet. 
The course ot policy which has been pursued by the well organised go- 
vernment of the United States for the last twenty years, has resulted < 
in the continuance of much individual and collective prosperity among 
the inhabitants of this highly favored country. 

I am for no change, and would not be instrumental in making any. 
Convinced that while the same plans are adhered to, no spot will be 
seen upon the sun of our national glory, no tear will be shed for our hap- 
piness departed. 

Mr. Stanly said, before he offered his views of the subject before the House, 
hv would notice the concluding observation of the Gentleman from Fay- 
etteville, (Mr. Strange) who last addressed them. Some weeks ago, said 
Mr. S. when a member had referred us to the example or to the opinions 
of Virginia, he (Mr. S.) had advanced the opinion that our political depen- 
dence, as well as our commercial connexion with Virginia, were disadvan- 
tageous to us, that she exercised an influence over us injurious to our bsst 
interests : that her political course was often one of error and passion rather 
than of deliberation and wisdom ; repeatedly marked by opposition to the 
wisest measures of the federal government, and by hostility to the best mea- 
sures of the great men whom it was her greatest honor to have produced. 
From her systematic attack upon our navy and army, to her recent opposi- 
tion to the Supreme Judicial Power of the Union, there was much in her ex- 
ample to excite apprehension^ and little worthy of imitation. This remark 
then elicited by the excitement of the moment, has been several times refer- 
red tq by gentlemen, and was again, in a discussion in which Virginia has 
not been mentioned or alluded to, forced upon our recollection by the gen- 
tleman from Fayetteville. The gentleman informs us he is a Virginian, 
that tier soil covers the ashes of his parents, that he can but retain affection. 
for her. Far be it from me, said Mr. S. to disapprove the virtue of filial 



54 CAUCUS DEBATE. 

piety, or to censure a reverence for the fifth commandment, the injunction 
of which, to "honor thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long 
in the land of the living," was to his feelings full as impressive and impera- 
tive, as what the gentleman doubtless considered the more elegant language 
of the Scotch poet, whom he had quoted. But, sir, the gentleman has not 
controverted my objections to the dominance of Virginia ; he has not deni- 
ed that that State assumes a right to lead North-Carolina in her footsteps ; 
that certain individuals of our State, distinguished themselves more for being 
puppets in the hands of Virginians than for any pre-eminence in talent or 
virtue, have by intrigue and management brought us almost to a condition 
of vassalage, and humbled the once proud and independent State of North- 
Carolina, to the lowly rank of a Colony of Virginia. She flourishes and 
towers as the oak, the monarch of the forest, while we have dwindled a- 
mong the shrubs under her shade. And now, again, sir, forced upon this 
subject as I am, I repeat the opinion, that Virginia arrogates the right to 
dictate tons ; that improperly, and through the agency of a lew men, she does 
influence us. But, sir, to allay the feelings of the gentleman from Fayette- 
ville, I add, I never suspected him, though a Virginian, of having any in- 
fluence over us. 

Mr. Stanly said, the question before the House was one which deeply 
concerned the interest, the honor and the happiness of the people. It was 
no less than this, is the right of Election of the President of the United 
Slates, worth preserving to the people themselves ; or may it safely be re- 
signed into the hands of a few ? Monarchies govern by force. Repub- 
lics are founded on the belief, that man is equal to self-government. The 
right of election, therefore, by the people, is the very essence of a Republic 
— it is the rock on which alone a Republic can be established. Whatever we 
may think we possess, whatever in theory we may claim, if the right of 
election by the people of the country, be not free and universal, it is mere 
delusion to call ourselves Republicans— -we possess but the name of liberty. 
No one dares deny these principles : yet there are many who, while with 
their lips they assent to these gospel truths, in their practice controvert them. 
The support of a Congressional Caucus for the nomination of a President 
of the United States, is an instance of this difference between profession 
and practice. The practice of a Congressional Caucus to nominate a Presi- 
dent of the United States, in effect, takes from the people a right which is 
safe in their hands, and places it in hands where it can be most easily abus- 
ed. It takes the power from those to whom the Constitution gives it, and 
transfers it to those to whom the Constitution positively denies it ; under the 
sanction of a Caucus, a few men filch from the people the election of Presi- 
dent, and fraudulently exercise it themselves. It breaks down the bulwarks 
by which the ( onstitution intended to secure the election of President against 
vice or ambition, and opens every door to corruption and intrigue. The 
Resolutions before us., are intended to give one blow at the root of this sys- 
tem of iniquity — they merit therefore a serious consideration. 

The office of President of these United States^ said Mr. S. is one of vast 
importance. Such is the influence of that office as the Executive of our 
Federal Government, that upon his ability and virtue must at all times 
greatly depend, not only our prosperity and honor, but as he can greatly 
influence the question of War er Peace, the happiness and prosperity of 



CAWGUS DEBATE. 1 55 

every part of the world, may be affected by his dispositions. Foreign na- 
tions, therefore, cannot be indifferent in the election of our President. 
Such is his agency in our affairs and such must be our influence on the af- 
fairs of other nations. Of such magnitude are the powers of the President, 
that many virtuous men who opposed the adoption of the Federal Consti- 
tution, called him a Monarch in disguise, and believed that they saw " the 
diadem sparkling on his brow, and the imperial purple flowing in his, train." 
To create the head of an empire, to invest him with necessary authority, 
and yet impose necessary restraints, were objects of the greatest solicitude 
to the framers of the Constitution. It is known that their anxiety on this 
point was equal to its difficulty and importance. Their reliance for safety 
against his power was finally placed on the guards which they had fixed as 
security to the purity of his election. It is known, sir, said Mr. S. that 
when the Constitution was signed, the work was not finished. The Con- 
stitution recommended by the Convention was yet to be adopted by the 
States separately. In every State there was opposition to it. To explain 
the necessity and the objects of the proposed Constitution, to remove ob- 
jections and to recommend it to the people, an important task was assum- 
ed by three of the most distinguished members of the Convention, Alexan- 
der Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison. The letters written in con- 
cert by these gentlemen under the signature of Publius, are collected and 
form the volume entitled the Federalist. It there was an individual in 
the House unacquainted with this work and its character, to him Mr. S- 
said, he would say, that in Legislatures it was respected for the clear light 
which it poured on the science of Government : in Courts of Justice it was- 
regarded as a text book on all questions of construction of the Constitution 
of the United States : to this work, legislators, jurists and statesmen with 
confidence appeal as to a manual of duty. I intend to read to the House, 
a part of the 68th number of the Federalist, in relation to the subject now 
before us — the mode of appointing the President. This number is from the 
pen of Mr. Hamilton — need I add, the friend of Washington, the compan- 
ion who shared his revolutionary toils — the disciple whom he loved, and 
who leaned upon his bosom ! — He regretted that time would compel him to 
read but a part of the number. Mr. S. here read the following extracts 
from the Federalist : "It was desirable that the sense of the people should 
operate in the choice of the person to whom so important a trust was to be 
confided. This end will be answered by committing the right of making it, 
not to any pre-established body, but to men chasm by the people for the 
special purpose, and at the particidar conjuncture. — Nothing was more 
to be desired, than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cn~ 
bal, intrigue and corruption. These most deadly adversaries of Republi- 
1 |:an Government might naturally have been expected to make their ap- 
proaches from more than one quarter, but chiefly from the desire m For- 
eign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could 
hey better gratify this than by raising a creature of their own to the Chief- 
Vlagistracy of the Union ? But the Convention have guarded against all 
langer of this sort, with the most provident and judicious attention. They 
lave not made the appointment of President to depend on pre-existing ho- 
lies of men, ivho might be tampered with before hand to prostitute their 
totes. ,° but they have referred it in t\\e first instance to an immediate act of 



56 CAUCUS DEBATE. 

the people of JJmerica, to be exerted in the choice of persons, for the tempora- 
ry ;nd sole purpose of making the appointment. And they have excluded from 
e T; ; , ibility to this trust, all those who from situation might be suspected of 
too great devotion to the President in office. JVo Senator, Meprese'nt tve, 
or other person holding a viae ■ of trus or profit under the United States, 
can l;e of th° nu»'l)er af El cfr>rs. Thus, without corrupting the ho 'y of 
the people, the immediate agents in the election will at feast enter upon the 
task free froin any sinister bias. Their transient existence, and their de- 
tached situation, already noticed, afford a satisfactory prospect of their con- 
tinuing so, to the conclusion of it. The business of corruption, when it is 
to embrace so considerable a number of men requires time as well as means. 
"Nor would it be found easy, suddenly to embark them, dispersed as they 
would be, over thirteen States, in any combinations founded on motives, 
which, though they could not properly be denominated corrupt, might yet 
be of a nature to mislead them from their duty. Another, and no less 
important desideratum was, that the executive should be independent for 
his continuance in office, on all, hut the people themselves* He might o- 
therwise be tempted to sacrifice his duty to his complaisance for those 
whose favor was necessary to t\\Q duration of his official consequence. This 
advantage will also be secured, by making his re-election to depend on a 
special body of Representatives, deputed by 'he society fur the single pur- 
pose of making the important choice." 

The Constitution of the United States provides, article 2d, " No Sena- 
tor, or Representative, or person holding any office of profit under the Uni- 
ted States, shall be appointed an Elector." This provision admits of no 
doubt- — the esbchnsioit of members of Congress from the trust of elector is 
positive, unconditional and unequivocal — they sh ■; »/.. t be appointed elec- 
tors. The object of their exclusion is declared in what has just been read. 
As clearly declared as if written with a sunbeam, and as wisely recom- 
mended as if in the language of inspiration. They shall not be electors, 
because they are not elected for thai spe- ia purpose : nor at the particu- 
lar conjuncture, but for purposes of legislation and for terms of two and 
six years service — because being a pre-ejeis' :ng body, they are subjects of 
cnbnl. intrigue and c rrup'io.: — because being a pre existing body, ample 
opportunity is given to '•foreign p iters*? to corrupt them and gain an im- 
proper ascendant in our councils — because their ' situation" subjects them' 
to the suspicion of " too great devotion to the President in office j" and 
because ii the seiise of the people in the first i t stauc, ' should operate in' 
the choice of President, who should be independent for his office on ail but 
«' the People themselves" — So that " without corrupting the whole body 
of the people," improper influence could not be effectually exerted. So 
important were these provisions considered, that the same number of die 
Federalist informs us, that this mode of electing the President was almost 
the only feature of the Constitution which escaped severe censure, or which 
received the approbation of its opponents. 

All this wise caution of the Constitution was rejected, the letter and spi 
rit of the Constitution violated by the midnight operations of a < ongres&ion 
al Caucus, which Mr. S. said he should siiew, virtually, and in effect, 
placed the election of President in the hands of the memoers of Congress^ 
and took it from the people. Let us not be told, that there is no danger in 



CAUCUS DEBATE. 57 

this departure from the Constitution ; that we are secured from corruption 
by the character of our Congressmen. They may be all "honorable men," 
but the framers of our Constitution, with the experience of ages before 
theni, forbid us to trust them. We know what man has been, and we are 
thence to judge what he will be ; and, Sir, when in the early history of our 
Republic, in its very infancy, we read of the treachery of Silas Deane, the 
treason of 4rnold, and of Burr, the suspicion which dismissed Randolph 
from office, and the Yazoo speculation which involved the corruption of a 
whole legislature, common sense commands us to " lay not the flatter- 
ing unction to our souls," but, as statesmen, to reject the pernicious charity 
which considers all men as honest. 

The Resolutions now submitted to our consideration, express disappro- 
bation of a Congressional Caucus, to nominate a President. 

To. quiet our fears, to sooth our opposition to the Caucus, we are told* 
said Mr. S. by some gentlemen, that the Caucus will be harmless, since it 
merely recommends a President to the people — by others, that it will pre- 
vent electioneering — that it is to produce union — and by all, that it is to 
prevent an election of President by ihe House, of Representatives, voting 
by States. He would examine the solidity of the several grounds on which 
the Caucus is defended. 

"I'-is a recommendation." — Why, Sir, is any recommendation necessa- 
ry ? What man here is prepared to say, that the people are unequal to the 
task of deciding for themselves ? While we are flattered with the assur- 
ance that we are the most enlightened, the most virtuous and only free peo- 
ple on earth, ai-e we in the same breath to be told, we are unfit to deter- 
mine for ourselves the proper person to be our Chief Magistrate! — that we 
must listen and bow to the unasked advice, the gratuitous recommendation of 
— we know not whom ! For Sir, by whom is this recommendation to be made ? 
I answer, by persons who are strangers to us, and whose qualifications to 
advise, are utterly unknown to us. They are, however, we are told, mem- 
bers of Congress : — admit it, Sir, but their fitness for the high claim to de- 
cide the choice of President, is not thereby established. The duties of 
members of Congress are highly important, and require rare virtue and 
talents : but into that station, as into every other, merit, virtues and talents 
are not the indispensible passport. If the •'aucus nomination were to come 
from the Representatives of this State alone, (which is not, however, the 
fact,) what member on this floor, knows them all ! For myself, I cannot 
claim that honor. Who here can vouch that their qualifications to decide 
are superior to those of the Sixty thousand voters of our State! In what 
walk of life, in what profession, from the proud range of science to the hum- 
blest occupation of labor, where have these gentlemen established their 
pre-eminence ? In times of danger and calamity (it has been observed,) 
the people call into their service the first virtues and the best talents : but 
in times of peace, when no alarms excite attention, the love of country 
sleeps, an ambition of a lower grade than that of patriotism calls candidates 
from retirement, aud brandy and barbacues, and Cross-road harangues, 
have a controlling influence. We shouid know the gentlemen from this 
State who will attend a Caucus better than we do, before we surrender our 
right of election into their hands. But Sir, this recommendation may not 
come from our Representatives. As 1 understand a Caucus, its very iouu- 



58 CAUCUS DEBATE. 

dating its vital principle is an agreement that the minority in Caucus shall 
not nnlv vieul to the majority while in Caucus, but they are pledged to 
sacrifice their own choice, and thenceforth support the man chosen by the 
■majority of the Caucus. The whole number of members of Congress is 260, a 
majority of these, say 131, constitute a Caucus. In this Caucus, three 
States, viz. Pennsylvania giving 28 votes, New-York giving 56 votes, and 
Pelaware giving 5 votes, making together, 67 votes, make a majority — and 
these three States may give the vote of the Caucus. Our representatives 
who go into Caucus in favor of one man, ruled by the vote of the Caucus, 
surrender their own opinions, and come out pledged to recommend and sup- 
port another! And this recommendation, to which we are to surrender 
our right of election, may come to us, not even as the voice of those of 
whom we know something, however little, but may be the dictate of the 
'.Representatives of three States differing from us in interests, entire stran- 
gers to us, and of whose integrity and understanding we are perfectly ig- 
norant. How little of prudence is there in being pledged to submit to the 
ODinion of a body thus organized — How little of Republicanism to yield our 
choice to any set of men. 

That a Caucus recommendation would " prevent electioneering," is cer- 
tainly true — Electioneering, a meeting with the people in large or small num- 
bers, and discussing with them themeritsordemeritsof candidatesfortheir fa- 
vor, explaining the bearings of particular measures upon their interests, there- 
by to excite their examination and enlighten their judgments on subjectsupon 
which they are to act, manifests a respectful deference to the people, and 
treats them as men capable of judging for themselves. Upon no subject of 
earthly concern, can a people be addressed with more propriety than upon 
the choice of a President ; and why not upon this subject, as well as in re- 
gard to the every day topics of local and temporary interest ? Yet the 
gentleman from Wake (Mr. Taylor) is in favor of a Caucus, because it will 
" prevent electioneering," a very candid acknowledgment of what I under- 
stand to be a plan to smother the voice of the people upon the election of 
President. Let gentlemen who approve this plan, tell the people so to their 
aces, when they next electioneer with them for a seat in this House. 

But the Caucus is to "produce union." — Union of whom, and against 
whom ? On some former occasions, when tw r o great parties existed, 
each contending for power, and for different systems of policy, as well in 
regard to domestic as to foreign concerns, each party supported its separate 
candidate for the Presidency. At such times and under such cir- 
cumstances, a Caucus of either party had the plausible excuse, that it 
was necessary to prevent a division of its strength, that the party should 
unite in the support of one candidate, in opposition to the candidate of the 
adverse party. The object and effect of such a Caucus was to induce some 
candidates to withdraw, leaving one only of the party in nomination. But at 
this time, no such excuse exists — there is no division of parties: the Fed- 
eralists as a f'.-v'y no longer exist : most of them are satisfied with the pre- 
sent administration of the government and make no complaint, while others 
uirting themsel-" es as members of the dominant party, with the new zeal 
of Renegadoes, unite in die (>otcry against measures they themselves have 
supported, and rail at the designs of a " minority. " 



CAUCUS DEBATE. 59 

If there are at this time any other candidates for the Presidency than 
republicans — if there is any federal candidate, I ask gentlemen to name 
them; Certainly sir, said Mr. S. there are still federalists in existence, 
as the gentlemen from Fayetteville has thought it necessary to intimate — 
men who imbibed their principles of government from Washington — prin- 
ciples which will be cherished as his, until his name and his virtues shall 
cease to be revered. But these men are not united as a party in the sup- 
port or opposition of any man or of any measures. And a reference to fe 
deralism, as requiring a caucus of republicans, is an uncandid pretence to 
give countenance to the caucus. I say, therefore, that the union desired 
to be effected by the caucus, is a union of members oj Congress in a con- 
spiracy against the people — to obtain for their milted influence the highest 
reward, to advance their views of personal ambition, without regard to the 
public good. For himself, Mr. S. said, he was a federalist; he derived 
his opinions from the doctrines of Washington and Hamilton r never did 
principles of virtue and patriotism flow from a purer source 1 He had al- 
ways avowed and maintained his principles, and approaching the close of 
an active life, he was proud to recollect, that he had never obtained popu- 
lar favor (and he had had his share of it) by any disguise or concealment. 
He had lived to see the hostility to the prominent measures of federalism, 
the Constitution of the United States : the support of the navy, neutrality, 
commerce and unfettered friendship with ail nations, become the favorites 
and the doctrines of all parties. lie had approved and supported the ad- 
ministration of Mr. Monroe- — but still, if heaven preserved to him his inte- 
grity and understanding, he should live and die a federalist. He offered as 
an apology for these remarks, the observation and allusions of the gentle- 
man from Fayetteville. 

One further observation about "Caucus union." Mr. S. said he was 
of the company in which Aaron Burr gave his celebrated toast, ,' an union 
of all honest men ."' The ap, arent liberality and patriotism of the senti- 
ment obtained universal applause : but we were soon undeceived ; the 
union he desired was a union of conspirators against the government and 
constitution of the country. He must be excused for not entertaimng 
much respect for the union which a caucus was to produce — an union of 
individuals against the rights of the people. Burr's scheme was to be act- 
ed openly ; our people saw the treason and put it down : but the schemes 
of a caucus, are hidden : they are planned to deceive us under the pre- 
tence of recommendation and union, and are more dangerous than Burr's. 

The last reason urged in support of a Congressional Caucus, is, that it 
is necessary to prevent the election of a President going to the House of 
Representatives, where it must be made by the vote of States, in case no 
person voted for by the electors has a majority of the whole number of 
electors. 

Mr. S. said, he must be allowed to express his surprize at the objection 
now urged to this provision of the constitution. Not only was this princi- 
ple contained in the constitution as adopted in 1789, but with a slight al- 
teration, was submitted to the States and adopted as a substitute for the 
original article as late as the year 1803. Me here read the act of the Ge- 
neral Assembly of 18US, ratifying as a substitute for the original article of 
the constitution, the amendment providing that ^ifno person voted for as 



GO ' CAUCUS DEBATE. 

President have a majority of the whole number of electors, then from the 
person having; the highest numbers, vnt p.vcepdins: Hire?, on the list of those 
voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immedi- 
ately by ballot the President °, but in choosing the President, the votes 
shall be taken by States, the representation from each State having one 
vote. " 

In examining the weight of this reason for a Caucus — the propriety and 
justice of the design by means of a Caucus to defeat this provision of the 
Constitution, it is necessary to advert to the nature of our Government. — 
The Federal Government, we must remember, is a Cnmpt/und Govern- 
ment, partly popular, the will of the people deciding agreeably to numbers ; 
and partly Federal, the States deciding in their capacity of Sovereign 
M»mhers of a Federal body. The election of President in the first in- 
stance is pop'ifar $ the advantage is given to the large. States : their 
number of votes in the electoral college, is in proportion to their num- 
ber of people, and six States, giving 131 votes, uniting on the same per- 
son may elect the President. But if the election is not made by the peo- 
ple in the first instance, the choice is then thrown upon the House of Re- 
presentatives, voting by S'ates, where thirteen States, being a majority of 
the whole Union, though they may be the smallest states, and have to 
gether but TO votes in the electoral college of 260, may yet elect the Pre- 
sident. As the six large States that might elect the President by their 
electors, Mr. Stanlv named, New-York, entitled to 36 Electors; Penn- 
sylvania, to 28 ; Virginia, to 24, North-Carolina, to 15 ; Ohio, to 16 -, Ken- 
tucky, to 14. — Six States, having 133 Electors, giving in the electoral col- 
lege, 133 votes, a majority of the whole electors. , As the thirteen small 
States which might elect the President in the House of Representatives, 
voting by States, he named, Maine, having 9 Electors ; New-Hampshire, 8 ; 
Rhode-Island, 4 ; Connecticut, 8 : Vermont, 7 ; New-Jersey, 8 ; Dela- 
ware, 3 : Illinois, 3 ; Indiana, 5 ; Missouri, 3 ; Mississippi, 3 y Alaba- 
ma, 5 ; Louisiana, 5. — 13 States — 71 electors. 

In the first case, the advantage is given to the large States, where six 
can out-vote eighteen. — In the last ca^e, the advantage is given to the smail 
States, thirteen of whom being a majority of twenty-four, elect the Presi- 
dent, though, in point of numbers, the thirteen contain little more than 
one-fifth of the whole population of the United States. But before we ar- 
ray ourselves in opposition to this course fixed in the Constitution, we ought 
to remember, that our union is a work of compromise, and our Constitution 
an instrument of concession and conciliation. Under this spirit of compro- 
mise and concession, the Southern States count three-fifths of their slaves 
in the census which entitles us to Representatives to Congress, and elec- 
tors of President and Vice President, under which the Southern States 
gave as many electoral votes above those we were entitled to for our white 
population, as made Mr. Jefferson President of the U. States, and under 
which we now send as many representatives to Congress, as five small States 
are enticled to, more than we could claim from our white population alone. 
Under this compromise, the smaller States have as much weight in the Se- 
nate as the largest, and the smallest and weakest States, have their inde- 
pendence and safety guarantied by the strength and wealth of the whole. 
It is this spirit of concession and compromise that formed and must cement 



CAUCUS DEBATE. 61 

our Union. It is as gross a violation of honor and good faith to. endeavor 
to deprive the small States of their constitutional right of election of Presi- 
dent by equal votes in the House of Repi'esentatives, as it would be by 
Caucus or other indirect mode, to deprive them of their equal vote in the 
Senate, on all treaties, appointments, and acts of legislation. If we prize 
our Union, it does not become us to complain of the terms on which it was 
obtained, nor act the dishonest part of defrauding the weaker members of the 
Union of toe right we have promised they should enjoy. The concessions 
of the Constitution are a cheap price for its inestimable worth. 

But, Sir, said Mr. S. before we lend ourselves to defeat this provision of 
the Constitution, fur an ultimate election of President by the States in the 
House of Representatives, let it be remembered, that the election by States 
even then is not uncontrolled — the States cannot elect whomsoever they 
please — their choice is confined to one of the three highest, presented 
by the votes of the Electoral College. And even in this case, the large 
States not agreeing upon the President, nominate three persons for the 
office, for which one is to be elected. Their choice therefore is at last but 
a ratification of the election made by a respectable portion of the people 
themselves. A word more on this point of debate : — There are persons in 
this State and in this House, who hold that the government is a mere union 
of States ; what shall we think of the consistency of these gentlemen, who 
holding such opinion, yet support a caucus, to rob a portion of the States 
of their equal power, not only resulting to them, as equals in the compact, 
but secured to them in the constitution ? 

Mr. S. said, it had nearly escaped him that there was yet another ground 
on which a caucus nomination of President was defended — the one advan^ 
ced oy the gentleman from Fayetteville alone : "to prevent the election 
of S)e Witt Clinton." While the gentleman mentioned this among the ad- 
vantages of the caucus, he thought it proper to say Mr. Clinton was a man 

pre-eminent for talents." It would have interested many of us, had the 
gentleman informed us, why the election of a man thus pre-eminently gifted 
should be defeated — but the gentleman gave us no reason. Mr. S. said, 
it was due to Mr. Clinton to say, that his qualifications for the highest of- 
fice in •'the gift of his country, were of the first order ; and if it were not 
his misfortune to be a citizen of a State, torn, distracted, and governed by 
rancorous factions, his chance for the Presidency would not be inferior 
to that of any man presented to our choice on the present occasion. 

Mr. S. said, that having examined the arguments urged upon us in vin- 
dication of a Congressional Caucus, lie would now briefly turn to the other 
side of the account, and add some further observations the more clearly to 
expose the wickedness of this Caucus system. 

By the fundamental law of a Caucus, the members strip themselves of 
all the obligations and responsibilities of their office of members of Con- 
gress — they are not bound by oath to act honestly in Caucus, nor are they 
liable to impeachment or puuishinentj.-^or the corruption which may there 
govern them. Yet, though l all the restraints which honor and good faith 
would prescribe are cast off, they assume fetters which common sense 
should disdain to wear ;. they bind themselves to one another, to recom- 
mend and to s-upport for the Presidency, the man preferred by a majority in 
that Caucus, ' although the individual thus selected, may be unknown to 



62 CAUCUS DEBATE. 

them, or what is worse, may be the object of their distrust or dislike : and 
should the Caucus be composed of a bare majority of the Congress, of a 
-small faction, the * aucus recommendation may be obtained, (as I have 
before shewn) by the votes of three States only. An admirable plan this to pre- 
vent an election by the votes of thirteen States in the House of Represen- 
tatives ! To avoid what they call the monstrous injustice of an election 
by thirteen States, they invent a plan by which, without any injustice, three 
States may decide the election ! 

The reasons for the exclusion of members of Congress from the office of 
Electors have already been explained — the danger of corrupt bargains be- 
tween them and the President ; and of improper influence from foreign 
powers. Their exclusion on ground of expediency is also strong. Members 
of Congress should be chosen with a regard to their ability as legislators, 
their knowledge of the foreign relations of the United States, and the in- 
fluence which any measure of foreign or domestic policy may have on the 
general welfare ', and on the interests of the particular section of the coun- 
try which they represent. Convert them into Electors and these necessa- 
ry qualifications are lost sight of. Instead of their capacity for legislation, 
their opinion on the Presidential Question, will become the subject of en- 
quiry j those who agree with us on one point, maybe most opposed to our 
interests and wishes on the other, and on one or the other questions we may ' 
be misrepresented. 

But the labour of the Caucus is to produce only a "recommendation," 
and that from persons "acting merely as private citizens. " Yet after 
making this declaration, as every advocate for the Caucus has made it, they 
see no inconsistency in acknowledging, that " the Caucus will have an in- 
fluence, a bearing on the election :"— it will " prevent electioneering," 
(by deciding the election, I presume, and leaving nothing to electioneer a- 
bcut 5) — "it will keep the election, from the House of Representatives" — ■ 
'and "it will prevent the election of De Witt Clinton ! !" — Sum all these 
acknowledged effects of the Caucus together, and I think it will amount to 
"an election of the President." But in this Caucus they meet merely as 
private men. Pity it is, sir, that this foul blot of a conspiracy to under- 
mine and overturn the barriers erected by the people against fraud aud cor- 
ruption, should rest on members of i ongress — but such is unfortunately the 
fact. Who are invited to attend the Caucus ? Members of Congress on- 
ly. Who are permitted to take seats and to vote ? Members of Con- 
gress only. Why are not all citizens invited ? Surely it is an uncandid 
evasion of the fact, to say they meet merely as private citizens. 

Assuredly, sir, said Mr. S. I may hope for universal assent when I say, 
that no right of independence is more valuable than the right to elect our 
first Magistrate, and that no right more requires virtue and intelligence in 
its exercise. However favorably, we may think of our members of Congress, 
there is, there must be more wisdom, virtue and intelligence in the great 
body of the freemen of the count'ty* than o^n possibly fall to the lot of 
any individual. The election of President is safejs.t-'&verefore, in the hands 
of the great body of the people. — It is sure to be. exercised ojrjthem with 
the purest views — with a more certain aim at the puolic good. Yet sir, 
it is the fact, all who hear me know it is the fact, that under the operation 
of this Caucus system, the great body of the peopie take no interest in the 
flection of President. Witness your last elections, in. which I verily be- 



CAUCUS DEBATE. 6>S 

lieve not six thousand votes were given in the State, when the compara- 
tively trffling State elections call sixty thousand freemen to the polls. 
They do not attend, because they know the thing is already settled : Cau- 
cus management has usurped their rights ; who the President shall be, has 
been settled by our Congressmen at Washington ; who the Electors shall 
be, is settled here, bv a Sub-Caucus of tfssembyme.n / The ardent love 
of his country, which once urged the freeman to investigate and weigh the 
qualifications of the candidates for his favor, is changed into a servile sub- 
mission to the choice made for him by others : the generous warmth of inde- 
pendence under which he once pressed to the polls, now changed to apathy 
and indifference, he remains at home ; and the few who witness the sick- 
ening effect of this Caucus, sitting like a night-mare upon our most valua- 
ble institutions, turn with disgust and abhorrence from the scene. Look, 
I say again, look at your last elections for the proof ot these declarations. 
Such is the practical result of a Caucus— the surrender of the right of elec- 
tion to the hands of a few, and the debasement of the individual citizen and 
the disgrace of our institutions of liberty. To reverse this scene, abandon 
the Caucus interference ; restore the election of President, where (fee wis- 
dom of our fathers with the blessing of Heaven placed it, into the hands of 
the freemen of the State. — You elevate the national character, and dignify 
the individual citizen, by requiring him to reflect and to decide upon subjects 
deeply affecting the best interests of his country — the virtue of a free peo- 
ple will guarantee the correctness of their decision, and you preserve the 
splendor and purity of our Republican Government. 

But, sir, said Mr. S. we are asked what right has the Legislature to 
interfere by offering our opinions upon this subject ? He thought gentlemen, 
might be satisfied of our right to interfere by a reference to their own argu- 
ments and to their own conduct on former occasions. /As the grand in- 
quest of the people of the State, as the guardians of their rights, as the 
watchmen placed by them on the walls to give the alarm of approaching 
danger, it is our right, our duty, freely to investigate and fearlessly to 
challenge the movements of any man or set of men, which in our opinion 
threaten our liberties, or impair .our rights. Upon this foundation the le- 
gislatures of all the States, by resolutions and instructions, in almost every 
year, express their views on various subjects, committed by the Constitu- 
tion to the control of Congress ; and so firmly has the practice been estab- 
lished, that the legislature of this State, has on divers occasions exercised 
the right. The vote of censure on a former Senator, the resolutions appro- 
bating the late war, and Mr. Madison's conduct in prosecuting it, are pro- 
minent instances of such interference. The right of the States, thus 
to interfere, is supported by the highest authority. The letters of Publius 
to which I have before referred, give an assurance of safety to the people 
from the vigilance of the State Governments — who as guardians of the 
rights of the citizen will have their attention awake to the conduct of the 
national rulers — who on any thing improper appearing, will sound the alarm 
to the people — will be their voice, and if necessary the arm of their discon- 
tent. If the statesmen who wrote the Federalist are right, we may exam- 
ine the measures of the Federal Government and sound the alarm, if we* 
discover ought improper. But if the Caucus advocates are right, we shall 
flot dare to whisper disapprobation of their unhallowed treason. 



61 CAUCUS DEBATE. 

But the right of the legislature to interfere in this business, rests upon 
still firmer ground than usage and common understanding. By the 1st 
section of the 2d article of the Constitution, the trust of appointing Elec- 
tors of President and Vice-President is given to the legislatures of the 
States. To regulate the election of Electors, even to make the choice by 
their own votes is, by the Constitution, the right of the State Legislatures"; 
and when any set of men, call it Caucus or what you will, assemble to- 
gether, step before us, the Legislature of the State, and virtually elect the 
President, leaving to us and to the people the humble duty of subscribing 
to what they have done ; if it be not in our power to act in opposition to this 
conspiracy, it is at least very moderate presumption to go as far as the pro- 
posed resolutions ; humbly to declare our disapprobation of the course pro- 
posed. 

With a few observations he should be done with this part of the sub- 
ject. In entering this building, said Mr. Stanly, we are gratified with a 
sight of the Statue of Washington, from the first sculptor of the world. In 
this Hall, too, we have here before us the striking resemblance of his person 
from -the first painter of the age. For what purpose are these monuments 
thus placed ? Does anyone believe, as mere splendid gew-gaws, to indulge 
our fondness for th fine arts, or to pi ease the eye of the listless visitor ? No, 
Sir. I fondly hope, said Mr. S. they are placed before us for far more ex- 
alted purposes. For an end in which States are proud to vie with each 
other. To recal the recollection ot the Father of his Country, the States- 
man and the Hero ; to express the deep interest we feel in his character, 
to awaken the best feelings of the heart, a grateful remembrance of his ser- 
vices and virtues, inspiring resolution to imitate his virtues, to emulate his 
fame, and to derive wisdom and virtue from his life. 

Permit me. Sir, at this moment, when we may hope that the base passi- 
ons of party are suspended, to read, as applicable to the occasion, apart 
of Washington's Farewell Address : 

"All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and as- 
sociations under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, 
control, counteract or awe, the regular deliberations and action of the con- 
stituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of 
fatal tendency.... They serve to organize faction, to give~it an artificial and 
extraordinary force, to put in the place of the delegated will of the nation 
the will of party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the 
community ; and according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to 
make the public administration, the mirror of the ill-concerted and incon- 
gruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome 
plans, digested by common councils, and modified by mutual interests. 
• "However combinations or associations of the above description may 
now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time 
and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and 
unprincipled men, will be enabled to subvert the power of the people, and 
to usurp for themselves the reins of government ; destroying afterwards the 
^ery engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion" 

It is Washington who thus counsels — though dead he yet speaketh! 
The dangers against which, as if by inspiration, he thus warned us, have ar- 
rived. The self-created Societies, or combinations, call them by what 



CAUCUS DEBATE. G5 

name you please, whether Jacobin Clubs in France, or Caucus in Ame- 
rica, alike design to "direct and control" the election of President — to 
*' organize a faction." to take the power from the hands of the people, to 
sell their own influence at the highest price.— They are destructive of the 
'liberty of the people and ought to be put down. If we pay any regard. 
to the admonition of Washington — If his opinions are not to sink into 
contem.pt, as he has sunk into the grave, this Caucus system should re- 
ceive the reprobation of every friend of his country. 

But say the advocates of a Caucus, admitting the objections to a Caucus 
recommendation to be well founded, admitting the right of the Legis- 
lature to interfere, yet, say they, the Preamble to the Resolutions is im- 
proper — is sophistical. Is it candid, Sir, in gentlemen to say, they vote 
against the Resolutions, because they dislike the Preamble, when they 
well know, and are repeatedly told, the Preamble may be amended, and 
even stricken out, if they will withdraw the motion to postpone h;chfi.rite.- 
ly. which they have made, and which motion, by the rule of the House, 
precludes amendment ? Is there an honorable man on this floor, who 
can say to the people "I voted against the Resolutions, because I disap- 
proved' the Preamble," and not at the same time acknowledge, " yet the 
Preamble would have been amended, or stricken out, but I would not 
permit it!" As no attempt hat been made to prove the Preamble so- 
phistical or untrue, it would have been full as well not to havecharged it with 
being so. 

The names of the most conspicuous of the persons nominated for the Ppe- 
sidencyhave been introduced into this debate by several gentlemen who have 
preceded me. I may therefore be pardoned for glancing at them. And 
as I am still a free man — no office* seeker, and never have and never shall 
either ask or desire any favor from great men, I 'shall express my opinion 
with freedom. 

Mr. Crawford, it is sai'l by his friends on this floor, is the best qualifi- 
ed of the candidates for the Presidency. The qualifications for this high 
office, are of such nature, they cannot easily be concealed. From what 
quarter the lustre of Mr. Crawford's merits thus shine, I am unable to 
discover. As a politician his course has been marked by twisting and 
turning; by the instability of apolitical weathercock. In 1T98, he ad- 
dressed John Adams, from Augusta, in terms of fulsome adulation at a 
period subsequent to the commission of the most obnoxious of his federal 
sins. Upon removing soon after to a soil where republicanism (so called) 
most flourished, Mr. Crawford is distinguished .as an inveterate repub- 
lican, and of course, denying to John Adams a single claim to merit or 
approbation. Subsequently, in Congress, at a crisis when the beam trem- 
bled ; audit was doubtful, whether the measures of the Republican .party 
would not sink them, Mr. Crawford acted with the Federalists in opposition 
to the embargo, non-intercourse, non-importation and embargo, and war, 
and in support of a national bank. This changing course might pass for 
independence, and might do Mr. Crawford credit, "but his friends must 
call him the only truly Republican candidate, and think to delude the 
uninformed by this winning appellation, when in truth, so far from ad- 
hering to the Republican party in ail cases, ox at all times, he differed from 

9 



66 CAUCUS DEBATE. 

them and acted with the Federal party, in the most critical times, and 
on the most important party questions. 

In one point he has been consistent. He has always opposed (what he 
called that Fungus,) a Navy. To deny to Mr. Crawford, the credit of 
considerable ability would be unjust, but so far from meriting the first 
rank I should be disappointed greatly if there were not hundreds of men, 
in every State of the Union, his equals and many his superiors in talents. 
Where, I ask, do this gentleman's friends point us for the evidence of 
Lis superior powers ? His speeches are of ordinary fabrick : his reports 
in the departments which he has fiUed, are the mere common-place 
detail, which the chief Clerk of his office might, if in fact he does not 
prepare. It would be unjust, however, to withhold from Mr. Crawford, the 
credit to which his friends may think him entitled, for the proposition 
seriously made by him in his report to the Senate of the United States, in 
March 1816, on the subject of Indian Affairs. His project to intermarry 
them with our sons and daughters. — I will read a part of that report — 
" When every effort to introduce among them ideas of separate property, 
as well in things real as personal, shall fail, let intermarriages between 
them and the whites he encouraged by the Government. This cannot fail 
to preserve the race, with the modifications necessary to the enjoyment 
of civil liberty and social happiness. It is believed that the principles of hu- 
manity in this instance, are in harmonious concert with the true interests 
of the nation. It will redound more to the national honor, to incorporate, 
by a humane and benevolent policy, the nations of our forests in the great 
American family of freemen, than to receive with open arms, the fugitives 
of the old world, whether their flight has been the effect of their crimes or 
their virtues." 

Here, sir, we have a specimen ofMr. Crawford's talents as a states- 
man, and his sentiments and feelings as a man. He proposes that Govern- 
meat shall encourage this creation of a motley race, that shall change the 
decendants of white parents into half-breeds — for the valuable purpose of i 
"preserving the race of savages !" And that too, he considers more 
honorable than receiving with open arms '■* the fugitives of the old world, 
whether their flight has been the effect of their crimes pr their virtues. '" , 
What exemplary conciliation and forgiveness, are manifested by the gen- 
tlemen not natives, but '"fugitives" as Mr. Crawford calls them, who 
distinguish themselves in his support, and of whom there are some to be 
found even here ! — When he shall be the President, and under his influ- 
ence the Government shall encourage these savage intermarriages, how 
ample will 'be the reward of the zeal of his young friends, each of whom 
may aspire to the hand of an Indian wife, and a tract of land ', and should 
they on trial dislike the bargain, they can sell the land, and the wife too. 
There are not wanting other serious objections to the election of Mr. Craw- I 
ford. I allude to the charges affecting the integrity of Mr. Crawford, 
given to the world by Gov. Clark of Georgia, under his proper signature, 
and to the mysterious affair of the suppressed documents from his depart- 
ment, respecting the pubiic money lost under his management by deposits 
in certain western banks. Of the truth or falsehood of these charges I pre- 
tend not tp have knowledge — but as Caesar repudiated his wife, without 
proof of her guilt, because the chastity of Caesar's wite should not even be 



CAUCUS DEBATE. 67 

suspected, so the American People ought to say, "The integrity of a Pre- 
sident of the United States, ought to be above suspicion " But, Sir, 
whatever may be Mr. Crawford's fitness for the Presidency, when I see 
his friends, and his friends only, endeavoring to sustain him by that ma- 
chinery of corruption and intrigue, a Congressional Caucus, by endeavor- 
ing to rekindle the vulgar prejudices of party, I must find very serious 
objections to his competitors, before I give my vote to Mr. Crawford. 

Mr. Calhoun, we arc told on this floor, is not a Republican ; the gen- 
tlemen say, at least, he is not a Republican of the Jefferson School. — 
Mr. S. said the path of Mr. Calhoun had been a bright one ; it had been 
distinctly seen and clearly marked. As a member of the Republican ijpar- 
ty, Mr. Calhoun had been greatly distinguished for his consistency, his 
zeal, and his ability. If to have contended, with all his eloquenca and 
zeal for the right of universal suffrage, be Republicanism — If to have ad- 
vocated and supported the late war against Great-Britain, in all its sta- 
ges, be Republicanism ; if to have reduced the expenditure of the army, 
under his administration of the War Department, and to save to the 
country, by his reform, a million of dollars annually, be Republicanism, 
Mr. Calhoun's claim to the character of a Republican is inscribed on his 
country's history. But he is not a Republican of the "Jefferson School," 
gentlemen say. 

If to desire to convert our gallant navy into a. fleet of contemptible 
Gun-boats ; if to reduce the army at each paint to little more than a 
Corporal's guard 5 if to rely on the system of distressing ourselves by em- 
bargoes, and non-intercourse laws as the means of obtaining redress from 
our enemies ; if to deny :o the federal Judiciary, the power under the Con- 
stitution to support the federal government, and the authority of its laws ; 
if these constitute a Republican of the Jefferson school, I presume Mr. Cal- 
houn has no claim to the character. But, Sir, let his enemies or his 
friends place Mr. Calhoun where they please in the ranks of party, his 
country, without the infiuenceof party feelings, will place him in the first 
rank of statesmen and of patriots. 

For the claims of Mr. Adams, Mr. S. said he had the highest respect ; 
Schooled in politics, every hour of his life has been devoted to qualify him- 
self for high stations in our government, and on many occasions he has been 
distinguished as the able and intrepid asserter of his country's rights. I 
owe it, nevertheless to candor to declare, that the apostacy of Mr. Adams 
from his old friends the Federalists to the Republicans, did not please me ; 
the crisis at which he sought the alliance of Mr. Jefferson, the moment 
when his party had gained the ascendant, left room to question the inte- 
grity of the change : but it is due to Mr. Adams to -acknowledge, that bias 
subsequent course of conduct, steadily and without wavering, sustaining 
-the rights, interests and honor of his country, should banish every doubt of 
his honesty. Considering Mr. Adams' qualifications and experience, and 
that the election of President is not merely a matter of sectional interest, 
but in its character and sphere, it is national ; that the Southern States 
have given four out of five of the Presidents we have had j thaton this occa- 
sion, to elect the President from the Northern section may serve to remove dis- 
content, cultivate harmony, and strengthen the Union, upon which our hope of 
Independence must rest. If my vote would elect the President, I would (of 



V 



CAUCUS DEBATE. 



the gentlemen nominated) give & to Mr. AHatns. But as I believe, that al- 
though in this house, and ineveryJp"artoftheS&te,Mr. Adams has many and 
respectable friends, yet as the number does not promise an efficient op- 
position' to" Wie Candidate whom the Caticu: is fco nominate, a ticket for 
Mr. Adams in this State woald b? but a xv& rength, and I fe'el no 

hesitation in declaring, that under the^o circumstances, I am willing to 
give my support to Mr. C Vdtoun. 

Not^ithstandmg, said Mr. S< the boldness of gentlemen, who arrogate 
to themselves the exclusive merit and character of Republicans : many of 
whom have been known only since the struggles of parties have ceased and 
contests of opinion actually subsided, by the universal agreement of all 
honest men, upon the prominent principles oh which the Government should 
be 'id ministered ; some of whom are scarcely out-worn their first breeches: 
and whose Only part has been to bloat along the current of parly ; who 
yet denounce as Anti -Republicans all who differ from them on this occa- 
sion. I find myself, said Mr. S. associated in my opinions, against a 
Caucus, aftd in favor of Mr. Atkins or Mr. Calhoun, in preference to Mr'. 
Crawford, not only in this house, but in every part of the State, with 
gentlemen, whom the country has long recognized as among the most res- 
pectable of our citizens, and who have always belonged to that class of 
firm and inflexible Republicans whose persona! character and exertions cre- 
ated and established that party, which these youthful patriots are so proud 
to claim as their own. A.nd I see among these would-be exclusive Repub- 
licans not only out of the House, but in the Honse too, some decided 
Federalists, who joining in the support of Mr. Crawford, and his project- 
ed Caucus, give their allegiance to those who still abuse them. For my- 
self, said Mr. Stanly, I thank God, I can say I am still a Federalist. I ne- 
ver have, and I never will put on the turban and turn Turk, for any share of 
the plunder. 

It is true, sir, that this question has taken up some of our time, but it 
has not been wasced, as gentlemen please to say. In the share I have had 
3n the discussion, I have been influenced not only by the hope that reflec- 
tion may! come to some on this floor, who have heretofore favored a Cau- 
cus ; but that the far greater benefit may flow from the debate : — that 
the public attention-may be roused and turned to the subject. ; that the 
indignant voice of a free people will soon be heard to put down the false 
and presumptions hope of those who by secret and midnight Cabals and Cau- 
cuses, plan projects, ruinous to the liberties of the country : and that the 
most valuable of the rights of freemen, the right of Election, uncontrolled 
by any conspiracy to direct their choice will be restored to them. As a free 
man, it is my privilege to investigate measures which concern my rights ; 
as a Representative of freemen, it is my duty to bring to the bar of public 
opinion the designs of those whose projects or conspiracies endanger the 
safety of the Constitution and encroach on the liberty of the people, and 
the freedom and purity of election. And may Heaven in its just judgments, 
deal with me as I act firmly apd concientiously in the support of these 
principles : the defence of the Constitution, and the right of the people free- 
ly to elect their officers and Representatives. 

Mr. Brown said, it was with reluctance he rose again on this question | 
but \\e did so, to correct an error which the gentleman from Newberu had 



CAUCUS DEBATE. €9 

fallen into, when he charged him with inconsistency, for having some years 
ago submitted a resolution in support of Mr. Madison's administration, and 
now opposing these. 

He had contended the other day, that this Legislature had a r: ■' rf to in- 
struct our Representatives in Congress on any subject which might come 
before them in their legislative capacity, but not as to any act to be done 
by them in their private capacity. 

"Mr. B. had not supposed i hi, t the merits of the different candidates for 
the Presidency would have been carevassed in this debaieJ But we have 
been told, said he, that Mr. Crawford et re belonged to the Federal party. 
And what is the proof adduced ? That li« sigiked aa Address to Mr. Adams, 
then President, approving the course of his administration in relation to 
France, with whom it was believed we were about going to war. But at 
that time, the most obnoxious measures of Mr. Adams's administration, the 
alien and sedition laws-, had not passed; 

Those most opposed to Mr. Crawford* in Georgia, where he then resided, 
have publicly declared that he has always been considered a firm Republi- 
can of the Jefferson school. 

It is also urged against Mr. Crawford, that he is friendly to intermarria- 
ges between the whites and Indians. He could not say that he admired 
this project ; but it was not a novel one. The celebrated Patrick He.u-y 
first broached the idea | and he had never heard it charged against him as 
an offence. He thought it was creditable to the humanity of ihese gentle- 
men, if not to their discretion. 

Mr. B. thought there was a great difference between the political cha- 
racters of Mr. Crawford and Mr. Calhoun. The former he considered as 
a plain firm Republican of the Jefferson school ; the latter bore the charac- 
ter of a Republican, but he was fond of show and expence, and greatly at- 
tached to the army. A standing army, Mr. B. had always looked rr. n 
as contrary to the genius of a Republican government, and the wisest po- 
liticians had so considered it : It is the most powerful engine in the hands 
of an administration. A popular government stands in no need of such an 
auxiliary ', nor does a free people want it for protection ; for, if the country 
be invaded, the citizens will rise in a body in their own defence. 

He was clearly of opinion these resolutions ought not to pass. A nomi- 
nation by Members of Congress, is the only thing that can unite the repub- 
licans of the Union in the pending election ; it is the only course which can 
prevent an election by the House of Representatives ; for if all the candi- 
dates now before the public be voted for, no one can be expected to receive 
a majority of the votes of the electors. 

Such an occurrence had but once happened, and that will never be 
forgotten. Did the House of Representatives on that occasion consult the 
wishes of the people ? No ; they were, very near electing Aaron Burr to 
the Presidency, who had not received a single vote as such, all the votes 
for him, having been given to make him Vice-President. Fortunately for 
the nation, after a long struggle, Jeiferson was elected. But surely we 
can never wish the country to do placed again in so perilous a situation .as 
it then was. To prevent this,, he hoped the usual nomination would be 
made. 



70 CAUCUS DEBATE. 

Mr. Mebane rose, and hearing a call for the question, said, he should 
detain the House but a few minutes. He believed that all that could be 
said on either side of the question had been already brought forward, and, 
of course, he despaired of sayingany thing worth the attention of the Hotise 5 
but as the subject had produced considerable excitement amongst the mem- 
bers of this House, and as his political standing has been somewhat differ- 
ent from many of those gentlemen who supported the principles contained 
in these resolutions, he therefore thought it necessary to express his senti- 
ments on the subject. 

He thought those gentlemen who were opposed to the Resolutions, had 
not (to say the least) treated the friends of them with fairness, but had 
rather returned evil for good ; they have not exhibited the same comity, 
that was shewn to them by the friends of the resolutions ; for when these 
resolutions were first called up, those opposed to them asked for time, al- 
leging that ihey were not prepared for their discussion, and that some one 
or more whom they expected to aid them in the business, was at that time 
absent : the time asked for, was granted them. Indeed, from the first ap- 
pearance of these resolutions in this House, those opposed to them have e- 
videnced an unwillingness to meet the question fairly j for they, at that 
time, made great opposition to their being presented, shewing an unwil- 
lingness to afford the members the customary opportunity of reading and 
examining them for themselves, so that they might be enabled to vote un- 
derstanding! y upon them ; but in this attempt they miscarried. The house 
resolved to see them, and they were accordingly printed. What was the 
result ? 

They were found, on examination, to contain some sentiments to which 
most of those opposed to th® Caucus system (which seems to be growing up 
in our country) could not subscribe, and of course were not for going the 
full length proposed in the Preamble and Resolutions, they were not willing 
to instruct our members of Congress how they should act in such a case ; 
and of course they wished to have amended the Resolutions in this respect, 
and proposed to do so, that their votes on the question might be correctly 
represented, and even tha author of (.hem wished them amended in this and 
some other objectionable parts. But gentlemen say no. The Resolutions 
shall be discussed, and a vote taken upon them in the form and dress' in 
which they were introduced, and in this instance, again show their unwil- 
lingness to meet the question fairly 5 for they very well know, that if this 
feature of the Resolutions was taken away, they would be deprived of, their 
strongest argument against them. 

The advocates of a Congressional Caucus say, that it is necessary to 
keep together what they call the dominant party, no doubt meaning the 
Republican party. This, to use the language of the gentleman from Fay- 
etteville, is an K* argument ad captandum," calculated to revive party feel- 
ing, and unite the Republicans of this House in opposition to these Reso- 
lutions, which, if they were passed, might have a tendency to defeat their 
Caucus scheme, on which they seem much to rely for the election of their 
favorite candidate as President. 

'Who, asked Mr. Mebane, are the Republicans, or rather, who are not 
the Republicans of the present day ? Why, Mr. Speaker, many old men who 
were formerly not only federalists, but almost royalists, are now not only 



CAUCUS DEBATE. 71 

Republicans, but flaming democrats ; and as to the young men of these times 
they are all Republican, and it is quite natural that as many of them as ex- 
pect to be candidates for public favor, would be Republican, because this is 
the popular side, this is with many, the surest and only way to promotion. 

But he knew many among the supporters of these Resolutions, who 
were Republicans, when Republicans were in a minority ; but who are 
those who now ?ound the tocsin of alarm ? and would denounce every man 
as an apostate, who cannot join them in all their Caucus schemes of in- 
trigue, which they say are necessary to keep together their party. They 
are young gentlemen. They are Republicans, either of late conversion or 
late growth. Many of those who support these Resolutions, were support- 
ers of the Republican cause, when these youths were in their minority, and 
who did not evidence a disposition to denounce their brethren because they did 
not agree with them at all times, on every sulrect. that come before them. 
There are Republicans present, who were so at the time when Mr. Craw- 
ford is charged with drawing and signing an Address to John Adams, ap- 
proving all his measures. Oneatle^.stcf whom, then recorded his vote in this 
House in opposition to a similar Address from the Legislature of this State. 
And are these the men who are admirers of the Caucus system, and who 
think that the people cannot be trusted to choose a President for them- 
selves, without being dictated to by a Caucus, composed of a few mem- 
bers of Congress ? No. They have learnt, by experience, that the peo- 
ple may safely be trusted to do their own business, and they are not afraid 
to submit the question of electing a President of the United States to the 
people, without the instructions of a Congressional Caucus. But it is ne- 
cessary to keep the dominant party together, lest they fail in electing a 
Republican President. He considered ail the candidates as Republicans. 
True it is, that two of them to-wit : John Quincy Adams and William H. 
Crawford have heretofore been found in the Federal ranks, but he believ- 
ed they were now firm Republicans. But it is said, a Caucus is necessa- 
ry, to put the most popular candidate in nomination. This is strange reason- 
ing. Whoever saw any difficulty, in effecting the nomination of a candi- 
date ; for if he does not choose to nominate himself, his friends will bring 
him forward ; and on the present occasion, there are already five candidates 
in nomination for the Presidency ; nut which of them is the most popular, 
will be more correctly ascertained by an election by the people, than by a 
Caucus. 

Another reason urged in favor of a Caucus nomination, is, that it is said 
to be the only way to prevent the election of President, from going into the 
House of Representatives. But let us see whether the remedy is not worse 
than the disease j or whether it is safer for an election to be made, or 
a nomination, which appears to be virtually the same, by a self- created 
Caucus, composed of a bare majority of the Members of Congress, in the 
first instance, and twelve months before the proper time of elections ; or 
by the House of Representatives finally, out of the three candidates high- 
est on the list, who must have received many thousand votes of the free- 
men of our country, before the House of Representatives can have a Con- 
stitutional right to vote for them. Certainly, nothing more need be said, to 
convince every man that it is safest and best, not to endeavor, by any such 
contrivance, intrigue or management; to defeat the wholesome provisions 



72 CAUCUS DEBATE. 

of our excelled Constitution. For his own part, he said he had no fears 
that a bad choice would he made, in this way, out of the candidates at pre- , 
sent spoken of. And as there must be some tribunal to decide, if the peo- 
ple fail to do so, lie did not wish to see this Constitutional provision evaded. 
Gentlemen tell us of the case of Jefferson and Burr. He condemned the 
conduct of those who espoused the cause of Burr as much as any man. 
But such a state of things cannot now occur under the amendment of the 
Constitution since adopted on this subject, and which no doubt grew out of 
that case. The votes for President and Vice-President are now distinctly 
. and Congress must therefore, choose one of the three most popular 
in the Union, and would most probably elect him, who received the 
uffrage from the people. He called upon plain men, like himself, 
to consider the effect of the vote they were about to give. Do you wish 
your Members in Congress to tell us whom you must vote for as President? 
then vote for h sola ; ns ; but if you wish to 

he uncontrolled in your vote tor this high omc^r, vote against the postpone- 
ment. 

Mr. Rainey rose and observed, he apprehended that when his grey hairs 
were taken into view, he could not be ranked with that juvenile class 
of politicians, of whom the gentleman from Orange had so illiberally, and 
uncharitably spoken, as finding their way to popularity by joining the 
stronger side of the political contest— he, however, on the present occasion, 
•was heartily with them in sentiment : though indeed the gentleman from 
Newbern, who had taken occasion to observe that it was boys but just 
out of their first breeches who seemed to lead the way in opposing the re- 
solutions before the house, might perhaps consider h.ivi as not yet out of 
Ms, for he had not yet got into tha dandy pan'alouns, but was really, as 
regards that article of dress, m the first fashion that he had any recollec- 
tion of wearing. 

Mr. R. the n exclaimed, a Caucus ! a Caucus ! a Caucus i this hideous 
monster that has been thus described by that gentleman in its most terrific 
form, 'SfGoKgons, Hydras, and Ofti ae«as dire'- — yet he really believed that 
it would be found quite a harmless thing. Indeed, it was quite an undefined 
thing, it was neither found in our laws or gospels. Our laws point out 
what constitutes a riot, an affray, or a conspiracy ; but this more horrid 
thing, a Caubus was not there recognized, or at all known, and he believ- 
ed it a universal maxim, ;/o lawj it , transgression .' He hoped the motion 
for indefinite postponement would prevail. 



Mr. Williamson had hoped, that the motion for indefinite postponemen 
would have been withdrawn, that the question might, have been taken 01 



lent 
on 

adopting or rejecting the Preamble and Resolutions themselves. He wish- 
ed to have seen by the result of the vote, who are, and who are not in favor 
of Caucusing. 

The members of Congress get together at Washington, and take upon 
themselves to say, who shall, or who shall uotbe our next President. We 
ere thus guided by these closed door Caucuses, as we invariably elect the 
Candidate whom they select. 



CAUCUS DEBATE. 73 

If this practice be not directly in hostility with the words of the Consti- 
tution, it is so with its spirit. That revered instrument has been some- 
times called a mere bundle of words ; but he considered it as containing spirit 
and principle, and as founded in compromise. He was willing to record 
his vote on this question ,• and that the people here, and at home, should 
know that he was opposed to Caucuses. 

Mr. Leonard thought that the holding of Caucuses were frequently 
attended with the best effects. When, for instance, said he, there arc 
several Candidates for a particular office, who are all thought well of, and 
whose talents and qualifications for office are nearly equal, and these men 
are opposed by a Candidate of entirely different opinions, whose election 
the majority wished to prevent, Mr. L. knew of no better way than that 
the majority, or persons representing the majority, should hold a meeting, 
in order to ascertain, by a vote among themselves, which of their several 
Candidates was the most popular ; and when this appeared, to drop all 
the rest, and run him. His election would then be certain ; whereas, if 
no such Caucus had been held, the probability is. that, by the majority 
dividing their votes amongst their several Candidates, the man run by the 
united minority would be elected. 

Mr. Fisher, said, it was with unfeigned reluctance he arose to address 
the House a second time on this subject. When he opened this debate, 
he had explicitly stated, that his remarks should be confined to the sub- 
ject of Caucus, but that if other gentlemen chose to enlarge the limits of 
discussion, and bring in the Presidential question, he, for one, was willing 
to meet them. They had done so, and he felt himself bound to redeem his 
pledge. 

Before I advance to the Presidential question, said Mr. F. I must be- 
stow a few passing remarks on what has fallen from some of the gentlemen 
who followed me in the debate. In the course of my previous remarks, I 
had rejoiced at the downfall of party, and that the season had come when 
we could meet and hold friendly intercourse without the embittered recol- 
lections of party rancor and rage ; but when in the language of Mr. Jeffer- 
son, H we are all Republicans — all Federalists." To these expressions of 
mine, the Gentleman from Beaufort, (Mr. Biackledge) declares his dissent, 
and with a doleful face, laments, that the elements of society are no lon- 
ger lashed into strife by party violence. (Mr. Blackledge here declared 
himself misunderstood, and gave, other explanations. J Mr. F. said, he 
would not attribute such motives to the gentleman from Beaufort, but there 
were men, whose importance in society mainly depends on the existence 
of faction : — as party-men, they have some chance of getting forward, but 
on the score of personal merit, they have no hopes : These are the sort of 
meu, that were sorry to see peace and harmony restored to the bosom of 
society : these are the men, when party is down, who may exclaim, "Othel- 
lo's occupation's gone." For my part, said Mr. F. if my humble merits 
are not sufficient to gain me the confidence of the people, let me dwell in 
obscurity forever. 

The gentleman from Caswell (Mr. Brown) seems to be in a terrible rage 
against Felix Grundy, and against the State of Tennessee. No one on 

10 



74 CAUCUS DEBATE. 

this side of the question had even mentioned the name of Mr. Grundy, but 
it appears, that gentleman had brought before the Tennessee Legislature, 
Resolutions disapproving- a Caucus, and this was what had awaked the an- 
ger of the gentleman. Mr. Grundy, no doubt, would feel extremely morti- 
fied, if he knew the very humble opinion entertained of him by the gentle- 
man from Caswell. — But, Tennessee, it appears, has also incurred his cen- 
sures. According to him, she is a factious State ; she refuses Kentucky 
the privilege of sueing in her Courts ; her example, therefore, should have 
no influence on us. Sir, it may suj0 the gentleman's purpose now, to 
speak thus of Tennessee — a State composed of emigrants from North-Car- 
olina— the same kind of people with ourselves — ourkindred andour friends ; 
but the time is not long gone by when the name of Tennessee was sounded 
in very different accents. Yes, Sir, when the gentleman from CasAvell, 
like myself, and most of the members of this House, were enjoying the 
safe comforts of home, the brave men of Tennessee, with Jackson at their 
head, were fighting the battles of the nation ; while we were in our warm 
chambers secure from danger, they were facing the enemy in the woods of 
Tallidega, or on the banks of the Mississippi. Then, Tennessee was not 
a factious State, her fame was sounded by every tongue ; but the Legisla- 
ture of Tennessee have set their faces against the detestable practice of 
Caucusing, and therefore, in the imagination of the gentleman she has be- 
come a factious State. (Mr. Brown here explained — he never doubted the 
bravery of Tennessee.) Mr. F. continued — The gentleman from Wake, 
(Mr. Taylor) has misrepresented me, in his reply to some of my remarks : 
not intentionally, 1 am sure, but through misconception. Mr. F. here no- 
ticed several remarks made by Mr. T. and replied io them. 

The gentleman, said Mr. F. and others, have called upon us to show 
them any clause in the Constitution, which forbids members of Congress 
from holding Caucuses. What, Sir. because there is no clause which says, 
"Meinbersof Congress shall not hold Caucuses," does it follow that they 
may hold them ? If members of Congress are permitted to do every thing 
not expressly prohibited to them, then their powers would be unlimited in- 
deed. But, Sir, this is not the way to construe the Constitution. The Ge- 
neral Government is one of delegated powers. The Constitution, express- 
ly gives or plainly implies, all the powers to be exercised by its agents, 
and Members of Congress cannot justly do a single act not authorized by 
the Constitution. With more propriety, then, can we call upon the gen- 
tlemen to show that part of the Constitution which authorises members of 
Congress to hold Caucuses for the nomination of President and Vice-Pre- 
sident of the United States. But, Sii\ there is a clause of the Constitu- 
tion which plainly prohibits Congressional Caucuses for that purpose ; it 
can be found in the second article. In his former remarks he had gone in- 
to the arguments to show, that these Caucuses were against the spirit, if not 
the letter of the Constitution, and he would not now travel over the same 
ground. 

Mr. F. said, the gentleman from Beaufort had told us what a wonderful 
Republican Mr. Crawford is — and had talked much about his "public ser- 
vices," and his economy. He had told us, too, that Mr. Calhoun is a/e- 
deralist, and that he is extravagant ; but the gentleman has not condescend- 
ed to furnish the proofs either of Mr. Crawford's Republicanism, or Mr. 



CAUCUS DEBATE* 75 

Calhoun's Federalism — of the economy of the one, or the extravagance of 
the other. Nor has he pointed out, when and where these "public servi- 
ces" of Mr. Crawford were performed. Empty assertions are not proofs, 
and these are the only kind the gentleman has furnished. But, said Mr. 
F. as the friends of Mr. Crawford are either unwilling or unable to furnish 
the evidence of all the fine things they tell us of, let us go back a few years 
and examine for ourselves. I shall not, said Mr. F. go back to the career 
of Mr. Crawford in Georgia, before he entered Congress, nor shall I notice 
his Federalism of '98, and this written approbation of the Alien and Sedi- 
tion laws of John Adams-* n '* will take him up after he went to Congress, 

The "public services" o ve 'his candidate, said Mr. F. may be arranged 
under three divisions : — 1$%? Those, he performed in Congress. 2d. His 
diplomatic achievements. 3d. Since he has been Secretary of the Trea- 
sury. 

First, then, in Congress. What did Mr. Crawford do to distinguish him- 
self, during the period he was in Congress ? What important measure did he 
devise and support ? His speech in favor of the renewal of the old United 
States Bank, is the only evidence his friends pretend to furnish in support 
of his claims to talents and services. Now, Sir, I do not pretend to deny 
that Mr. Crawford has talents ; he certainly has more than ordinary tal- 
ents, but they are of a particular cast, they are better adapted 'to the man- 
agement of a party than to the high duties of President. But, Sir, this speech 
of his does not prove him to possess either talents Or correct principles. It 
will be recollected, that Mr. Gallatin was in favor of renewing the charter : 
Mr. Crawford was on the Committee charged with the subject, and Mr. 
Gallatin had put the Committee in full possession of all the reasons and 
arguments in favor oi" the measure. Arguments being thus furnished to 
the Committee, surely it did not require great talents to bring them forth 
in the form of a speech. Men o.f much less talents than Mr. Crawford 
could have done it. The fact is, Mr. Gallatin's agency in this business 
was so well understood at the time, that the speech was called " Galla- 
tin's speech." Whether it was proper to renew the charter ot the old U. 
States Bank, is not necessary now to enquire. It is, however, certain, 
that the Republicans were opposed to it, and defeated the measure. The 
great bulk of the stock was owned by foreigners and our noiitical opponents, 
and the Republicans contended that to renew it, would in fact, be re-esta- 
blishing it for the benefit of foreigners. Here, then, Mr. Crawford sepa- 
rated from the Republicans. 

Again. When Mr. Jefferson came into the administration, he determin- 
ed to follow the course of Washington, in regard "to our foreign relations — he 
adopted the neutral policy. In this he persisted ; but in the year lSOr* 
the affairs of this nation began to reach a crisis which required the adop- 
tion of other measures. Accordingly, in the session of 1807, Mr. Jeffer- 
son, in a message recommends that Congress should " make preparations 
for whatever events may grow out of the present crisis :" and as a pre- 
paratory step, he recommends the Embargo. The object of the Embargo 
was to save the immense mercantile capital of the country, from being cap- 
tured under the French Decrees, and the British Orders In Council. The 
necessity of the measure was so apparent, that in the Senate, it met with 
the support of both parties, only six voting against it, Jive of these were 



76 CAUCUS DEBATE. 

the most violent of the Federalists, and, the other one was TV. H Craw- 
ford. Here, then, a second time, we see this gentleman deserting from 
the Republicans. All parties admit, that the Embargo, was a wise and ne- 
cessary measure as preparatory to war ; but when it was turned into a 
substitute for war, the Federalists, and the great bulk of the Republicans, 
begin to reprobate it. Mr. Crawford, however, thought otherwise. In 
1807, he separated from the Republicans, in laying the Embargo, and in 
1809, when the Republicans, nay, the voice of the nation called out for its re- 
peal, he voted against its repeal. If the Embargo was wrong in 1807, 
how came it right in 1809 ? Let the friends ol'f fte Candidate, explain this 
inconsistency ? — ° 

Again. In 1810, the Administration, finding that our affairs were ra- 
pidly approaching a crisis that would most probably result in war, began 
seriously to make the necessary preparations for that event. — Among the 
measures recommended by the President, and adopted by Congress, was a 
Bill — "forfit'ivg out, and mtfiining the frigates belonging to the United 
States." Against this measure, Mr. Crawford, and five others voted. 
He not only voted against the organization of our small navy, at that criti- 
cal period, but he broke silence, and delivered a flaming speech against 
the navy. In the course of this speech, he calls the navy " a fungus on 
the body politic," and censures Mr. Jefferson for not going farther than he 
did, in destroying it — he ridicules the idea of our navy's being of any ser- 
vice in the event of war — and talks loudly of England with her thousand 
ships. It is in this speech too, that, he delivers his sarcasms against Mr. 
Madison, and ridicules his message ; in which he also ridicules the max- 
im of Washington — "that to be prepared for war, is the best method to 
preserve peace." Sir, said Mr. F. let any candid man read this speech, 
and he will no longer doubt Mr. Crawford's fixed hostility to the navy. 
But fortunately for the nation, Congress did not adopt Mr. Crawford's no- 
tions of the navy ; if they had, the last war, could not be written in as 
bright characters as it now will be. 

When, continued Mr. F. the nation was driven, by the aggressions of 
Great-Britain, to the alternative of war, Mr. Crawford was pursuing a 
doubtful course in Congress. He however, made his peace with the ad- 
ministration, by giving a silent vote for the measure ; and then managed 
to be appointed a Minister resident at a Foreign Court, where he would be 
beyond danger, and clear of responsibility. This brings us to the stcond 
division — his diplomatic services. And here, said Mr. F. I call upon his 
friends to show what he did while Minister in France ? What Treaty did 
he negotiate, or in what correspondence did he sustain the character of the 
country ? We may look in vain for such— if there ever were any, they 
have been suppressed, like other documents. — He continued in Paris en- 
joying his $9,000 out-fit, and his S9.000 annual salary until the war was over 
— -he then returns to scheme for higher honors. His attempts at the Presi- 
dency, in 1816, cannot be forgotten by this House. So much for his di- 
plomacy. Let us now come to the third division of his " public services," 
and examine his achievements in the Treasury Department. 

What new source of revenue has the present Secretary of the Treasury 
discovered since he came into that department ? or what plans has he a- 
dopted to render more secure, and less expensive the collection of the du- 



CAUCUS DEBATE. 77 

tics under the existing laws ? His friends before this, have been asked. 
but have not been able to answer. 

Mr. F. saui, he would compare some of his estimates made in his annual 
reports, with the true results furnished bj himself in his subsequent re- 
ports. In his report of loth December 1816, the Customs for 1817 was 
estimated at 12 millions dollars ; but in his report of 1817, we find the re- 
venue turned out 22 millions — or 10 millions more than his previous esti- 
mate. 

In his report of 1817, he estimates that the permanent revenue, will be 
24,525, OOU doiiars ; the very next year, however, falls short of this esti- 
mate more than 2| millions, even after deducting the internal duties. 

In his annual report of 1818, he says " It is presumed that the revenue 
which shall accrue during the present year from imports and tonnage may 
be considered as the average amount which will be am ually received from 
that source of revenue." This amount turned out to be j§21, 828,451. The 
revenue from that source for 1819, was S17,116,702. For 1820, was only 
about 12 millions, or more than 9 millions less than the estimate ; for 1321, 
was 19 millions, or three millions less : which makes the average for these 
3 years, about 5 millions less than the Secretary's permanent estimate. 

Here, then, said Mr. F. we see, how wide of the mark his estimates have 
turned out. 

This fatal error in the Secretary, in estimating the permanent revenue. 
at nearly 22 millions, is the true cause of many of the embarrassments that 
followed. It is with Congress as with individuals ; place surplus funds at 
their disposal, and they cannot rest, until they spend it. Mr. Crawford 
had made Congress believe, that the permanent revenue would be 22 mil- 
lions, which would be several millions annually more than was Wanted for 
the ordinary expenses of Government. Congress had to devise some way 
to get rid of this surplus fund ; but the surplus turned out a deficit, and 
loans became necessarv. 

But, sir, these are not the only mistakes made by Mr. Crawford. In his 
annual report of 1820, he committed an error of nearly 3 millions of dol- 
lars, which was detected by Mr. Calhoun. He made a second report to 
correct the first, and the second report was also incorrect ; he made a third 
one, and this, too, in the opinion of Mr. Lowndes, Mr. Sargeant, and other 
able Financiers, was stili wide of the mark. I shall notice only one other 
instance of the Secretary's mismanagement of the funds of the nation— that 
is, his connection with the insolvent Banks. By voluntary loans to these 
Banks, or imprudent deposits, the nation will lose neurlg one miUion.of 
doiiars, according to his own report. In one Bank alone, (Vincennes) he 
placed a sum greater than the total capital of that Bank. Now, sir, these things 
prove one of two conclusions ; either that Mr. Crawford is not capable of 
managing the duties of the Treasury ; or, if he does possess the necessary 
skill, that then, he has, through carelessness or design, greatly mismana- 
ged the finances of the nation ; in either result, he certainly cannot be a 
proper person lor jf resident of the II, States. 

Mr. F. said, he would pass over some other acts of the Treasurer, on 
which, he intended to make remarks, and come to his connection, with the 
Jtacttcnls. It is not necessary, sir, here to give the history of this new par- 
ty, further than to state } that it is not composed of the choice materials 



78 CAUCUS DEBATE. 

of either of the old parties, but is made up of the faa-ends, the dis- 
appointed, and disaffected of both. This party is opposed to the present 
Administration ; to its policy and leading measures, and Mr. Crawford is 
the known head of this mongrel set. He is their candidate ;■— there is not 
a Radical in the nation but supports him. Though a member of the Ad- 
ministration, he. heads a faction, hostile to the wise measures adopted by 
Mr. Monroe, and which are generally approved by Federalists as well as 
Republicans. While Mr. Crawford is thus blundering and stumbling a- 
leng in his department ; while he is carrying on his operations with the 
Radicals, to destroy every branch of the system of national defence, let. us 
turn sir, to Mr. Calhoun, and examine his "public services" to the nation. 
John C. Calhoun entered Congress about the year 1811 — at a time when 
our affairs had reached a crisis, which threatened war, or national degra- 
dation. He stepped at once on the theatre of Congress, a political ilos- 
cius ; by the force of his talents, he soon gained a standing that attracted 
the attention of the. whole nation. He was compared to the sages of the 
oM Congress. Before the end of that Congress, he stood at the head of the 
Committee of Foreign Relations— by far the most important Committee 
in Congress at that period. 

It was Mr. Calhoun, and. a few other distinguished Republicans in Con- 
gress, who waited g:i Mr. Madison, and told him that the crisis required 
decisive and energetic measures ; or, that the national character would 
sink. Mr. Madison communicated his war message, and the House of Re- 
presentatives, referred it to the Committee of Foreign Relations. That 
Committee was composed ot some of the oldest and ablest men of the party 
in Congress : but when the question of war was brought before them, they 
approached it with deepapprehensions. Itwasanexperimentyettobe made 
by our Government, and moreover there w«s a powerful party in the country 
opposed to it. The l ommittee met, full of doubts, and apprehensions. Mr. 
Calhoun addressed them at great length. He showed that war, or na- 
tional disgrace, was the alternative ; he demonstrated the ability of the 
nation to sustain the war ; when he concluded, doubt no longer dwelt in the 
Committee — they were for War, — Mr. Calhoun was appointed to draw up 
the manifesto, seting forth the causes of the war ; this paper has aptly 
been called the second Declaration of Independence. But, Mr. Calhoun, 
was not only one of the moving spirits, that brought on the war; after it 
was declared, no one was more active in devising the ways and measures 
for a vigorous prosecution of it 5 in organizing the navy and the army. 
During tiie whole of that contest, he stood to his post in Congress, battling 
it with the Federal phalanx, and cheering up the spirits of the Republi- 
cans. But the storm of war blew over, and the sun-shine of peace broke 
out on the nation. If Mr. Calhoun was active in carrying on the war, 
be was not less so, when peace came, in devising measures to repair the 
effects of the war, and in suiting tilings to a state of peace. The war taught 
us a lesson of experience ; and a nation like an individual, should profit 
by experience. Mr. Calhoun was foremost in devising a system of nation- 
al defence— that system which the Radicals have labored so hard to destroy. 
Shortly after the war Mr. Monroe was elected President. He placed Mr. 
Calhoun in the Department of War. As during the war this department 
was the one through which the operations were chiefly directed, it was 



CAUCUS DEBATE. 79 

found by the new Secretary in the greatest disorder. He found on the 
books more than Fifty millions of unsettled accounts. He set the pro- 
per officers to work ; in less than three years the balances were nearly all 
settled. He found defects in the system of accountability— ^public mo- 
ney was given out. badly disbursed, and still worse accounted for. He in- 
troduced important changes, and exacted rigorous punctuality from all 
public agents. The consequence is, that the large sums which now pass 
through the War Department, are disbursed with less loss than ever was 
before known in this or any other Government. He found defects in the 
system of supplies — he recommended an entire change by which thousands 
of Dollars have been annually saved to the nation. By economy and man- 
agement, he has reduced the expenses of the Ordnance Department. Ord- 
nance of all descriptions are now obtained cheaper than ever before known. 
There is a saving on muskets alone, of nearly fj,3 a piece. By care and 
economy, the annual expense of each soldier has been reduced more than 
'§135. In short, documents show, that by skill, system, and economy,. 
Mr. Calhoun, in the management of the War Department, annually saves 
to the nation not short of a million of dollars, and yet we jiave heard a 
member on this floor, without any other proof than his empty assertion, 
'accuse him of extravagance! But this is not all. Under his direction, 
the system of national defence, has been established, and is progressive, and 
if not destroyed by the Radicals, will, in a few years be completed. 

These, Sir, said Mr. F. are some of the reasons why I prefer John. C. 
Ctilhoun as President ; and why I object to Wm. H. Crawford — I believe 
that for the nation Mr. Calhoun would make the best President — his past 
life and public services show it. But, Sir, there is yet another reason, 
that operates on my mind against Wm. H. Crawford. He is the Virginia 
Candidate. As a native of North-Carolina, with the interest and honor 
of the State near at heart, I am free to say, that of two candidates, equal in 
merit, the one proposed by Virginia, the other not, I would go against him, 
of Virginia. Sir, it is time that North-Carolina should stand alone — time 
to break the' charm of Virginia influence, and think and act for ourselves. 
North-Carolina has the name of being led by Virginia, true or false, we 
should give proofs that we are now free. We have followed Virginia until 
her politicians fancy we dare not part from her ; tell them that North-Ca- 
rolina will not vote for their candidate, and they will laugh you to scorn. 
Sir, my state pride revolts at the thought. We have followed Virginia, 
acted with and supported her men, for 36 years, and what offices of honor 
or profit has she given to North-Carolina ? While she has profusely spread 
the loaves and fishes to her own citizens, and to every other state, she 
has scarcely permitted North-Carolina to gather up the fragments — she has 
given us a Secretary of Legation, and a Commissioner to arbitrate the 
contested value of stolen negro slaves. 

A gentleman the other day, in the debate on another subject, «.sked if 
we wished a part of the " loaves and fishes ?" I boldly answer, yes !— 
Our Government, sir, is founded on the principle of representation $ that 
principle should be feit, and preserved in each co-ordinate branch of the 
Government ; we should be represented in the Executive and Judicial 
branches, as well as in the Legislative. The Constitution, said Mr. F. 
secures us our weight in the Legislative branch? or, he. doubted North- 



80 CAUCUS DEBATE. 

Carolina would be neglected there too. As for myself, sir, I neither expect, 
nor desire any office in the gift of the Government ; but I wish to see North- 
Carolina receive her due portion. She has sons of talents, and of worth, who 
would fill with honor to themselves and the nation, any office in the Go- 
vernment; but, as long as we follow Virginia, they will remain in obscuri- 
ty. And, what better things can we expect, if Win. H. i'rawford is elect- 
ed ? He is the Virginia candidate ; he will be under Virginia influence, 
and N. Carolina may expect from him Virginia neglect and disdain. But, 
sir, we may hope for better treatment, from John C. Calhoun. He comes 
from a state, bearing half of our name ', and possessing the same interests 
and feelings with ourselves : a state, too, that is smaller than our own, 
and she will find it necessary to conciliate her larger sister by acts of kind- 
ness and confidence. Besides this, sir, already, has Mr. Calhoun given 
proofs of his high regard and friendship for North-Carolina, and of his at- 
tention to our interest. Sir, it is to him, and to him alone, that we owe 
the acquisition of the Cherokee Lands — an acquisition which has already 
brought a large sum into our Treasury, and will bring much more ; but 
for the proceeds of these lands, our works of Internal Improvement would 
ere this have stopped. There is yet another instance of his regard for equal 
rights and for North-Carolina. The Academy at West Point, is a Nation- 
al Institution ; before Mr. Calhoun came into office, it. was supplied with 
young men, chiefly from Virginia, and a few other states — North- Carolina 
had but little share ; but since Mr. Calhoun has been in office, he has estab- 
lished a principle of equality, and North-Carolina has come in for her 
share of Cadets. The gentleman from Fayetteville, (Mr. Strange) tells us 
that he is a Virginian, and that he is proud of his birth-place ; sir, these 
are very natural feelings, and it is to be expected that he would act under 
their influence ; but he will permit us, who were born in North-Carolina, 
also to cherish the character of our native state. Sir, said Mr. F. I ad- 
mire Virginia, she has produced a race of great men, and of high-minded 
politicians ; but, this is no reason why North-Carolina should come and go 
to her beck and nod. — I would wish to see North-Carolina under the in- 
fluence of no state. I wish to see her act on her own lights, and worthy 
of the character of a great state. Until she does act in that way, she will 
never obtain her just influence among the other states of the Union. 

Mr. Rainey rose and said, while attentively listening to the speech of 
the gentleman from Rowan, who was last up, he had got into a kind of re- 
verie, and had been soled away as to forget that he was sitting in the Com- 
mons Hall as a legislator, and. had fancied himself at a Muster-field, list- 
ening to an Electioneering harrangue, for never had he heard a more com- 
plete one. 

Mr. Martin, of Rockingham, said, that he had not intended to have risen 
on this subject, nor should he have done so, had it not been for a remark 
which fell from the gentleman from Fayetteville (Mr. Strange) yesterday, 
as to the bearing which the present vote would have upon the Presidential 
Election. He could say that his vote on this question would have no con- 
nection with that which he- should give on that election. He should vote 
against the Preamble and Resolutions on the table, because he considered 



CAUCUS DEBATE. 81 

them as embracing an illegitimate object to be brought before this body.— 
If it were a subject of great national importance on which the General As- 
sembly were called upon to express an opinion, it would be a different rtkat- 
ter, but he did not believe the House had any right to direct the con- 
duct of our members of Congress in the matter now before them. 

Mr. M. said he was opposed to the gentleman who would probably be 
recommended as a candidate for the Presidency, if a Caucus were held at 
Washington, andhe wished this distinctly to be understood. But he should 
nevertheless, vote for the indefinite postponement. 

Mr. M'Auley observed, that these Resolutions proposed to instruct our 
Members of Congress not to go into a Caucus at Washington, for the pur- 
pose of nominating a Candidate for the Presidency. As to going into a 
Caucus with closed doors, he was not for it. But at> to their holding a 
meeting for the purpose of determining which of the Candidates now be- 
fore the public, it will be best to unite in supporting, he could see no objec- 
tion to it j but he did not believe the General Assembly had any thing to 
do with it. We came here, said he, to legislate for the State, and not to 
instruct our Members of Congress as to their duty. They received their 
powers from the same source which gave us ours, and we must all account 
to our constituents for our conduct. He was willing to record his vote 
against interfering with what did not belong to us. 

Gentlemen,, said he, talk about Republicanism. He had always been a 
Republican ; nor had he ever back-shded, and he hoped he never should 
to the day of his death ! 

The question was then taken on the motion indefinitely to postpone the 
Preamble and Resolutions, and carried 82 votes to 46. 

The Yeas and Na}*s were as follows : 

Yeas — Messrs. Ashe, W. D. Barnard, Blackledge, J. M. Bryan, Brown, Bowers, Ba- 
ker, T. Bell, C. Barnard, Brodnax, Bynura, Barrow, Brower, S. A. Bryan, I.. Cherry, 
Cope'and, Cole, Clancy, Davis, Davenport, Elliott, Fox, Frederick, Forbes, Gary, Gor- 
don, Holland, Hoover, Howell, Horton, Hassell, R. A. Jones, Jeter, Jarman, R. H. 
Jones, Kilpatrick, Leonard, Lowrie, Lamon, Lewis, Mhoon, Melvin, Miller, M'Cawley, 
M'Daniel, T. N. Mann, R. Ma: tin, E. Mann, Mewborn, Oliver, Pugh. Koane, Rainey, 
Ramsay, Stedman, Stephens, Stewart, S?awell, Sidbury, Sellers, Smith, Strange, Til- 
lett, Taylor, Thompson, Turner, Wm. Underwood, D. Underwood. Vann, Webster, 
S. Whitaker, Walton, Worth, White, Watson, J. G. A. Williamson, Webb, Wright, L. 
P. Williamson, Walker, Whitehurst, W. Walton— 82. 

Nats — Messrs. Alston, Alf'ord, E. H. Bell, Bodenhamer, Baine, Brooks, Beall, Col- 
lins. Conrad, Croom, J. Cherry, Carson, Clement, Campbell, Dargan, Edmonston, Ed- 
wards, Flynt, Fisher, J. Gordon, Graham, Hargrave, ,\.L- Hill, Helme, Henderson, 
Hastings, Helkn, Hunter, J. A. Rill, Iredell, Love, McMillan, M'Neill, Melchor, M'Lean, 
Morgm, A. Martin, Mebane, M'Farland, Polk, Shepperd, Stanly, White, Weaver, 
Ward. Wilder— 46. 

^r" Since the sketch of Mr. Hill of New -Hanover's remarks, (which is 
in p:tge 26 of this pamphlet,) appeared in the Register, we have received 
from hnn a more full report of his speech on the occasion, which we pub- 
lish as iollows : 

^r Speaker, the gentleman from Beaufort, Mr. Blackledge, complained 
of his inability to follow the gentleman from Rowan, in the devious path 
«f his argument. His own course, sir, has been sufficiently eccentric. He 

11 



''< CAUCUS DEBATE. 

lias wandered from the subject, properly before the house, and sought to 
revive an empty but odious distinction, which should have slept forever in 
the :<,■■,), 6f the Capulets. When called upon for a manly expression of 
his sentiments on a great constitutional question, he raises the stale cry of 
k *partj,s" and avoiding a fair and open field of debate, secures himself 
behind the rampart of party prejudices. There I shall leave him, sir, to 
cherish in Ins own breast, if he has failed to excite them in the bosoms of 
others, the corroding animosities of party. « 

The gentleman from Caswell, Mr. Brown, has urged, in behalf of a 
Caucus, that the members of Congress, from their situation and superior 
intelligence, would be more likely to make a wise selection from among 
the nuiu Tfjus candidates for the Presidency? than the people, scattered a3 
ti :v are over such an extent of territory and residing so remote from the 
seat of government. In a Republic, where the virtue and the intelligence 
of the people ought to be considered the only legitimate basis of then- 
sovereignty, this is a most singular argument. It is. sir, in effect, to as- 
sert, that the Constitution has secured to the people a privilege which they 
are too ignorant to exercise, and, consequently, of which they ought to be 
deprived. I see on the table before me, the last message of our venerable 
Chief Magistrate, he holds opinions on this subject widely differing from 
that expressed by the gentleman from Caswell, " We are all, &c. " 

The people, Mr. Speaker, are, in truth, sovereign ; they have, however, 
chosen to delegate a part of their sovereign power, to be exercised under 
limitations, by their appointed agents, reserving to themselves certain pri- 
vileges to be exercised in their collective capacity ; among the most im- 
portant of these privileges is the right of choosing by their free unbiassed 
suffrages, the Electors of President and Vice President. To guard this 
important right, to secure the'neople in its free exercise, is the professed 
object of the resolutions on your table. There is not, I would willingly 
believe, in this House, one who would not. be prepared to resist, to the ut- 
most of his ability, any attempt to disfranchise tins nation, any direct at- 
tempt to deprive the people of any one of their Constitutional rights. Is 
it not equally our duty to guard against any improper interference with or 
encroachment upon these rights ? But how, it is asked by the advocates 
of Caucus, does the nomination of a President encroach upon the province 
of the people? They are not bound to respect it. It carries with it no 
binding force. True, sir, the members of Congress, deliberating in Cau- 
cus, are acting without the scope of their agency, and, consequently, what 
they do is not binding on their constituents. But when, sir- has a nomina- 
nation so made, failed to determine the event of an election? The truth 
is, that though it has, in law, no force, it has yet in f-'ct, all the authority 
of a lam. Besides, sir, we should reflect that we legislate, not merely 
for the present, but for the future. We should be careful to transmit 
to tnose who come after us, unimpaired, the rights we have received from 
those who have gone before us. We all know how readily customs 
grow into precedents and acquire authority. Thus, sir, what is now 
permitted to the Members of Congress, they may hereafter arrogate as a 
right, and the modest voice of recommendation, be exchanged for the proud 
tone of dictation. 

My chief objection to the practice of Caucusing, is, that I think it op- 
posed to the spirit of the Constitution. By that instrument, Members of 
Congress are disqualified from serving as Electors. The object of the 

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CAUCUS DEBATE. 83 

disqualification is plain. In the event of a failure on the part of the Elec- 
toral College to make a selection it becomes the duty of the House of Re- 
presentatives to choose the President from the three candidates having the 
highest number of votes ; did not the disqualification exist, the indecency 
might occur of a man's deciding a controversy he had prejudged. If the 
Electoral College fail to make a choice, it becomes the constitutional duty 
of the Member of Congress, to vote for that man, whom he deems in his 
conscience best qualified for that office. Is he equal to this duty, whose 
judgment is warped by prejudice and whose passions are excited by pre- 
vious controversy ? Does the Caucus Member of Congress discharge 
faithfully, the high trust reposed in him? Does he vote according to the 
dictates of his judgment and the voice of his conscience ? No, but dis- 
regarding the one, and hushing the other, he votes as a majority of his 
friends in Caucus dictate ; he cannot exercise even a common discretion ; 
he has already resigned the right of self-action ; he has surrendered him- 
self a passive instrument in the hands of others. A vote is put into his 
hands ; he stands pledged to render it, no matter whether it be averse to 
the wishes of his constituents, or contrary to his own feelings and in- 
clinations. 

It has been further urged, sir, in support of a Caucus, that from the 
number of candidates, and the divided state of the public mind, there is 
great probability of the election finally falling into the House cf Represen- 
tatives, unless the opinions of the people are concentrated by means of a 
Caucus recommendation. If, Mr. Speaker, the nomination by the Mem- 
bers of Congress is to have the effect so confidently anticipated from it, 
will it not be the Members of Congress who, in effect, make the President? 
And is not this, sir, exactly that, which gentlemen wish to avoid ? This 
method of avoiding threatened danger, by rushing madly upon it, is truly 
one of singular novelty and ingenuity. For my own part, Mr. Speaker, I 
should regret to see the election fall into the House of Representatives ; I 
would save that body from an exposure to temptation and a consequent 
liability to corruption ; but it is the mode pointed out by the Constitution, 
and I had rather that the most inefficient man in the nation should be ele- 
vated to the Presidency than that one jot or tittle of the Constitution 
should be violated. The mischiefs of a weak or partial administration of 
our affairs might be repaired by the wisdom of succeeding rulers, but 
where, sir, would you find an antidote to the poison of a vicious prece- 
dent ? In the one instance, the injury sustained by the country would be 
partial and might be repaired ; in the other, the wound inflicted on the 
Constitution would be hopeless and»irremediable. 

But we are told, Mr. Speaker, by the advocates of a Cauct , that this 
practice which we so much reprobate, is approved by the example of men, 
distinguished for their patriotism and republican principles. I confess, 
sir, I am not of that number who are easily influenced by the magic of a 
name ; I will not blindly adhere to customs merely because there is war- 
rant for it, or without enquiring into their origin and tendency. As to 
this particular custom, sir, it is one which, in my opinion, is " more hon- 
oured in the breach than the observance." It is a custom which had its 
origin in party intrigue, which is persevered in to the prejudice of popular 
lights, and which threatens to grow into a precedent dangerous to liberty 
itself. 



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